The Blouson: How to Meet a Real Eisenhower Jacket

Those of you who are regular readers know we have a special attachment to the blouson, a silhouette that is both practical and lovely. It figures in the design of several Anikka Becker pieces, including the amaranth cotton voile and the cocoa linen. The blouson has been a favorite of military heroes, crowned heads, and movie stars. But once, our love of the blouson got us into trouble.

Several years back we were working in the Pentagon. Some may know this iconic five-sided, five story building of five concentric rings in Arlington, Virginia as the home of the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the nerve center of the US military. A rarity among federal construction projects, it was completed in 1943 ahead of schedule and under budget. Today about 23,000 people work in this structure that contains 17.5 miles of corridors. It is very easy to get lost.

One day we were on our way to a meeting in the E Ring, the outermost of the five, where the bigshots work. The ring is divided by 10 different corridors arranged like the spokes of a wheel. Periodically a stretch of corridor will be paneled, a sure sign that someone important works in the area. Also found along these corridors are glass display cases, filled with historical artifacts, maps, artwork, or maybe a commemoration of an important event.

As we were reading the room numbers, it became apparent that we weren't in the right place. Pressed for time, we thought it best to keep going. It's all a big ring; we figured that eventually we would get around to where we needed to be. The walls, in earlier corridors painted a shade of institutional mud, were now covered in deep mahogany paneling. It got very quiet. In some of these VIP areas, security requirements prohibited cell phones. Not a good place to get stopped. We turned around and doubled back.

Another corridor. More paneling. A display case. A military uniform. Oh, a blouson jacket. Nice. Probably an Eisenhower jacket. Unable to resist, we moved a little closer. Yes. In fact it was the Eisenhower jacket. The one worn by the General himself in May 1945 to announce the surrender of Germany. Next to it was the paperwork, signed by the Wehrmacht's General Jodl, and the pen. Such a historic piece of tailoring required serious examination. Very late to the meeting.

Posted on December 11, 2016 .