The End of World War II The end of World War II took place in 1945, but it influenced the fashion and lifestyle in the 1950s. The first years after World War II are characterized by fashion historians as a period of transition. During the war, women took men’s jobs including working in factories. With the men back home from war, women focused on their role as suburban housewives, changing their style. They looked for clothing pieces that were comfortable, easy to wash, and easy to keep neat. The end of World War II transformed women’s roles at home and made housewives glamorous!
1950s “Sack” Dresses The Sack dress was a late 1950s innovation that came in response to the “New Look” of tight waists and full skirts. The Sack had no waistline at all and men hated it because it hid women’s curvy bodies. Designed by Givenchy and Balenciaga, and advocated by Harper’s Bazaar editor, Carmel Snow, the dress appealed to any woman no matter what size or price range. Wearers of the sack would rather be chic than sexy and wearers of the sack dress dress for themselves not men.
1950s “Swing Dresses” A well known style of dresses in the 1950s was the “Swing Dress”. The “Swing Dress” was rounded with a ballerina length hem and a cinched waist for a feminine hourglass look. “Swing” dresses came in a variety of patterns, colors, and lengths. By adding jewelry, gloves, or even stilettos, the dress is elevated to another level of glamour!
Stiletto Heel The 1950s saw the astonishing rise in popularity of the stiletto heel. Designers competed against each other to see who could create the skinniest heel. Women loved stilettos because they made women appear taller, but women also hated them because they were not the most comfortable shoes in the world. Eventually stilettos were more known for sex appeal than practicality.
Gloves in the 1950s Gloves were the symbol of 1950s women’s fashion. Women wore gloves whenever they walked out of the house. Gloves came in a wide variety of patterns and styles to choose from. In the 1950s, women wore white, long gloves when they wanted to look ultra- fashionable and glamorous, taking a cue from Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. For utilitarian, leather was the popular choice. To make arms look longer, women wore gloves of the same color as the sleeve of a garment. Also when picking out a pair of gloves, make sure they fit and are comfortable.
Purses and Handbags Purses and handbags were great fashion accessories in the 1950s, but not every women had the need to carry one. Nonetheless, designers created different and innovative designs. Women preferred short-strapped handbags that stayed close to the body. Gold lame was a popular style. Most purses were made from crocodile, turtle, alligator or snakeskin. Some designers even made purses out of Lucite (plastic) boxes. Women liked to buy wicker purses, leather purses, and other types. A very popular bag in the 1950s was Chanel’s iconic Black Quilted 2.55 handbag released in 1955, shown at the right.
Pedal Pushers and Bermuda Shorts As people became interested in casual sportswear, pedal pushers and Bermuda shorts came into style. These styles of cropped pants were paired with simple, patterned blouses or knit tops for a casual, chic look. These styles of pants had great impacts on modern fashion, allowing women to wear pants of any length depending on mood or weather. Pedal pushers and Bermuda shorts added a casual, comfortable vibe to any outfit.
Pierre Balmain (1914-1982) Born in Paris, France in 1914 His family owned a whole sale drapery business. His happiest childhood memories- playing in the boutique where his mother and aunt made dresses. He set his heart on becoming a couturier. He studied architecture at school in Paris, but he did not complete his studies. He designed dresses in his spare time. He started working for Molyneux from 1934-1939. In 1945, he opened his own house.
Pierre Balmain His talent as a designer lay in his ability to make simple, tailored suits as well as elegant evenings gowns in the same slender, elegant lines. In addition to his couture work, his designs were in great demand in Hollywood. Between 1951-1972, he designed costumes for 16 movies, starring actresses such as Mae West. Several designers worked under him who became famous as designers of their own houses. He died in Paris in 1982. http://www.fashionmodeldirectory.com/designers/pierre- balmain/
Balmain’s Trends Balmain suit Black sheath dress Extravagant and lavish feminine dresses Pure structure
“ His styles were effortless and refined while still remaining luxurious and opulent.”
Jacques Fath (1912-1954) One of the three dominant influences in postwar haute couture. Born in Maisons-Laffitte, France on September 6, 1912. He was raised in a creative family of fashion illustrators, writers, and landscape painters. Faith was known as the “little prince of Paris Haute Couture in the 1950s” He used unusual materials such as sequins made of walnut and almond shells. Faith began his designs by draping the fabrics on the mannequins.
Jacques Fath He had the marketing gift and tremendous personal appeal. Fath died of leukemia in 1953 and the house continued to function until 1957. His wife, Genevieve, ran the house after his death. The couture collection was discontinued and the house turned to production of perfume, gloves, hosiery and accessories. http://headtotoefashionart.com/jacques-fath-1912-1954/
Jacques Fath’s trends Hourglass shapes Plunging necklines Asymmetrical draping Angled collars and pockets
“He was the perfect combination of a genius designer, a terrific media user, and an extreme lover of women.”