Hjördis Niven. Christmas post 2018

Hjördis Genberg, modelling Swedish fashions in 1944
Hjördis Genberg, modelling Swedish fashions in 1944. Photo: Holmén, Erik, Nordiska museets arkiv.


Well, there has been a brief hiatus on hjordisniven.com, mostly due to my own family matters. However, I am back revisiting Hjördis’ world, and on the look-out for new information about [cliche alert] her life and times.

Recent updates include two slightly tangential pages. Modelling in Sweden focuses more on Hjördis’ fellow mannequin Kim Söderlund, who used her experience to overhaul the profession from the 1950s. You’ve heard of “Twiggy”, well Kim was “The Plank”.

Swedish fashion in the 1940s is really an extension of the Life in wartime Sweden page. Hjördis worked for the Nordiska Kompaniet’s ‘Franska’ (French) department from 1943-1945, and although she didn’t work in occupied France, there was at least one Swedish correspondent in Paris, sending heavily censored fashion news back to Stockholm. Swedish designers also produced their own designs, viewed in the US with some bewilderment:

“Sweden’s fashions styled during the war are middle-road in design, stressing neither American casualness, French sophistication, nor British utilitarianism.” Well, there was a war on…

Miss Hammarström and Miss Hjördis Genberg, modelling in 1944. Photo: Holmén, Erik, Nordiska museets arkiv.
Miss Hammarström and Miss Hjördis Genberg, modelling in 1944. Photo: Holmén, Erik, Nordiska museets arkiv.

The poison pen

Elsewhere, there are updates about Hjördis’ first marriage, to the Swedish millionaire playboy Carl-Gustaf Tersmeden. These include how Igor Cassini used his society gossip column in efforts to break the marriage, starting with a gratuitous piece about Hjördis on 12th February 1947, written after spying her at a party in Miami:

“Mrs Tersmeden is vivid, many-ringed and rather beautiful and used to be a model in Stockholm. When Mr Tersmeden came over here last year on business she followed him to Tucson, Arizona, pounced on him from behind a cactus and married him, not too much against his will, I gathered.”

This lead on to Hjördis being written about for having the best figure on the beach, and a mere two months later being listed as a Swedish celebrity alongside Greta Garbo and Ingrid Bergman.

As for Carl, not only were his post-Hjordis dalliances listed by Igor, but also by other columnists, and with a slight jab of of poison:

“Carl Tersmeden, the blonde portly man-about-town may wander along Gold Coast smart spots with various and sundry good looking gals, but he’ll never find one as lovely as his ex-wife, the former Hjördis Tersmeden, who is now married to David Niven. Carl knows it too.”

Hjordis Genberg, 1945
Hjordis Genberg modelling for NK Franska, 1945. Photo: Ateljé Uggla AB

Anyway… Christmas!

Mind you, Carl Gustaf’s 1945 Miami Christmas with Hjordis was not the easiest, as she revealed in 1947:

“Christmas Day came. Warm sunshine instead of snow. It was not like home. My heart grew so heavy. I cried all day. I did not care for palm trees, flowers and hot sun on Christmas Day. I longed for the clean white snow, the brisk invigorating air, the sleigh bells, the church bells of Sweden. To comfort me, my husband bought me a little fir-tree, I don’t know where he got it but it did help some.”

What they also needed was some Swedish Julglögg. Twenty years later, David Niven generously shared the recipe to spice up  (or blow up) everyone’s Christmas. And here it is again: David and Hjordis Niven’s Christmas recipes.

Happy Christmas everyone, and the best of luck for 2019!

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