Monday, February 25, 2013

Dior's New Look

The post-war world of the 1940s called for something new and exciting to happen for fashion.  Women were tired of looking like uniformed civilians in their war-rationed fabric suits and were longing for something feminine and beautiful, something different and new to put on.

Over in Paris, a designer by the name of Christian Dior was designing what women wanted.  Almost mocking the ideals of rationing, he was using bolts of fabric to create full, elegant dresses that would hit the runways and be dubbed as, "The New Look," for fashionistas everywhere.

The dresses in The New Look were meant to accentuate a women's natural shape and curves.  Each one had sloping shoulders, a tiny waist, and full bust and hips.  Dior wanted to idealize a woman's body, as well as draw on past eras of femininity, such as the Victoria Era, to give charm and grace to his designs.

However, Dior used his own little tricks to really give the look some flare.  The dresses had shoulder pads to create sloping shoulders, a "waspie" corset to create a thin waist, push up bra cups to accentuate the bust, and a padded petticoat to give the wearer full hips.  His dresses could practically stand up on their own with all the boning and padding he added to them to make them have this shape.  Women who were trying to get the look, but couldn't afford the design were encouraged to sew a "waist-liner" (a strip of muslim with boning sewn into it) into their dresses.

Though his designs were popular with celebrities and socialites and copied and produced for the all-American housewife, the dominance of The New Look in fashion ended shortly after Dior's death in 1957.  One could blame the complexity and restrictiveness of the layers and corsets for the end of the look, but the changing ideals of women and fashion probably had a lot to do with it, as well.  No matter the reason, the basic idea and silhouette of the look continues to show its face in fashion, constantly being replicated in design with each passing decade.

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