16 Christian Dior’s 1940s designs, later called the ‘New Look’ caused a major shift in post-war II fashion. Dior’s designs helped rebuild France’s internationally acclaimed fashion empire in the late forties. The 1947 collection was Dior’s first, and was the foundation to his massive success. Fashion regularly suffers after a war; fabric gets cheaper, silhouettes gets simpler etc. Yet this wasn’t at all the case in Dior’s collection. Dior had a vision of large sleeves, billowing skirts and excessive use of luxurious fabrics; you begin to see the start of 1950s shapes. This 1947 collection was made up of two lines ‘Corolle’ and ‘Huit’, the term ‘The New Look’ came from a Harpers Bazaar editor, Carmel Snow ,who exclaimed “it’s such a new look!” After yards and yards of fabric being rationed for war efforts, this new collection was a refreshing change. Dior’s collection included: very full-skirts, soft shoulders, and extremely small waists. During the war, woman had to take the men’s roles, since they were away. This caused women’s fashion to become more masculine. Yet after the men all came home from war, women were encouraged to act like women again; lots of them left the workplace and began going back to the household duties. This impacted Dior’s collection, which was overall very elegant and feminine. ‘The Bar Suit’ is one of the most iconic designs of the 1940s, the suit displayed a woman’s body perfectly, yet the tailored jacket gave the look structure. Dior knew exactly how to tailor to a woman’s body; he did more than just pull fabric in at the waist. The collection shows emphasized bust and hips in order to create that desired hourglass figure. The full-skirts even included padded hips
17 Dior did use a masculine edge in his designs – since it was popular, but he tried to steer away from that and encourage women to bring back the beauty in their clothing. During this time period there was also a very somber feeling, as the Western world attempted to rebuild itself economically. This was reflected in this collection, as it is very mature. Many people protested against Dior, because he wasn’t rationing fabric. For example King George V forbade his daughters from wearing ‘The New Look’. Yet once the war efforts came to an end, Dior made his designs even more extravagant, particularly in his evening wear. Dior experiments with layering mass quantities of fabric while still extenuating the small waist. He often used to tulle in the skirts of his evening wear, especially in his designs that he called ‘The Flower Woman.” They included strapless necklines, which he had engineered a built in feather bonding to hold the dress up. The tulle was trimmed with sparkly fabric, which created a flower-like look. The New Look changed fashion forever; the ionic Bar Suit’s basic principles are still seen on runways today. Along with the trademark evening dress, ‘The Flower Woman’, this is now a staple style of wedding dress. Dior’s collection paved the way for designers after him. Clothes were no longer just simple garments, but single masterpieces which created a silhouette perfect for every woman.