Sunday, 9 December 2007
Post World War II, women sought femininity in frivolous and indulgent clothing as a distraction from the hardships of rationing and the practicality of wartime fashions. Defined in fashion terms as the ‘Golden Age of Couture’, (1947-1957), it was an important milestone in fashion history. The new silhouette which emerged, reminiscent of the Belle Époque era, emphasized a narrow waist and accentuated a higher and fuller bust. It was a step back from the sharp-shouldered suits cobbled together as makeshift wartime versions of Schiaparelli’s slinky 1930s silhouette. Women’s hourglass figures reflected the new optimism post war and celebrated the female form which was very important after the brutality of war, and the paradigm of postwar womanhood, where the women were expected to be capable and caring housewives. The founding father of the soft-shouldered, waspy-waisted silhouette, Christian Dior, took the social and cultural temperature of the immediate post-war period and created luxurious romantic fashions using lavish amounts of material. Many saw his actions as a bold and shocking stroke, as fabrics were still rationed. However, he managed to answer the needs of the women of the time, and his collection was so considerable that it was referred to as the ‘New Look’. Throughout the 1950s Dior continued to create new looks. The H-line focused on the torso to create a youthful impression; the famous A-line with narrow shoulders and wide skirt; and the Y-line which inverted the A-line style. Dior’s A-line ‘New Look’ is still an influential fashion moment today despite his death in 1957. John Galliano celebrated the silhouette in his evening dresses for Christian Dior in his Autumn/Winter 2004/5 collection and this seasons cinched in waist phenomenon, at Dolce and Gabbana and trickling down to the high street, can be traced back to Dior’s visions.