Christian Dior

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  • Topic: Dress, Hemline, Dresses
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  • Published : May 6, 2013
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Patricia Al-Masri
201004181
Figure 1 Christian Dior fixing the dress he designed on a model. Figure 1 Christian Dior fixing the dress he designed on a model.

On February 2, 1947, Christian Dior launched his first fashion collection for Spring/Summer 1947, “Carolle”, thus putting an end to the wartime styles that had dominated the fashion world ever since 1939. The new collection went down in the fashion history and got to be known by the name of the “New Look”.

During World War II, designers had been forced to adjust their styles to wartime cloth restrictions due to the lack of materials. Women’s clothes were close fitting, with square shoulders and shorter skirts, as seen in the images below.

With the New Look, Dior made several changes to the wartime fashion ( characterized by military and civilian uniforms); his outfits had rounded shoulders, full skirts, and a narrow waist. The dresses were lined with expensive and luxurious fabrics such as cambric or taffeta and were beautifully detailed. Outfits were accessorized with a hat (often worn to one side), long gloves and simple jewelry.

Figure 2 The New Look: rounded shoulders, full skirt, and a narrow waist. Figure 2 The New Look: rounded shoulders, full skirt, and a narrow waist.

The New Look created an international sensation. Some crticized Dior’s work by saying that manufacturers didn’t have enough cloth to make the full skirt that he had designed, and that women didn’t have enough money to buy them. But groups of women had a different opinion after seeing the collection at Paris fashion shows; they believed that femininity had returned to women’s clothing. As for other designers, they started imitating Dior’s designs and impelementing the New Look features in their own lines of clothing.

Figure 3 Jean Desses imitating Dior's New Look in 1951.
Figure 3 Jean Desses imitating Dior's New Look in 1951.

Figure 4 Balenciaga adding the New Look into her designs in 1955. Figure 4 Balenciaga adding the New Look into her designs in 1955.

Dior had said that he wanted his dresses to be “modeled upon the curves of the feminine body”, due to the belief he had that women wanted a new trend after WW II.

The New Look became extremely popular for several years after it had first been introduced in 1947. The European upper-class women became Dior’s loyal clients, and Paris re-inforced it’s fashion position to all the attention the New Look got.

Born in 1905 and raised in Normandy, France, Dior had moved to Paris with his family at the age of ten. He had studied political science and had then served in the military. His design career began in 1935, after returning to Paris and starting to sell the sketches that he drew. In 1938, the designer Robert Piguet had hired him, and in 1946, he opened his own house (with the support of textile manufacturer Marcel Boussac).

Each of Dior’s collections had a theme. The New Look line under the name of “Carolle” or “figure 8” suggested the silhouette of the new look. The spring 1953 collection, called “tulip”, featured an abundance of floaty, flowery prints. The Spring colletion of 1955 called “A-line” had an undefined waist with a smooth silhouette that widened over the hips and legs, thus resembling the capital letter A.

The 10-year Evolution of Dior’s designs:

Figure 5 "Cherie" dinner dress, Spring/Summer 1947.

Exemplifies the New Look from all aspects; sloped shoulders, raised bustline, narrowed waist, and a monumental volume of skirt falling away from a padded hipline to below the calf. Figure 5 "Cherie" dinner dress, Spring/Summer 1947.

Exemplifies the New Look from all aspects; sloped shoulders, raised bustline, narrowed waist, and a monumental volume of skirt falling away from a padded hipline to below the calf. Figure 5 "Bar" suite and jacket and skirt, Spring/Summer 1947. Iconic New Look ensemble, featuring sloped shoulders, an articulated bust, a nipped waist, and padded...
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