While most of you might not remember or know of Dior’s New Look, the designs will seem totally familiar to you. That’s because Christian Dior’s New Look dictated the silhouette and look of women’s fashions for the better part of the mid-twentieth century. Debuted in 1947, the New Look became “the” look of the late 1940s and into the 1950s. It was one of those history-altering inventions in the fashion world very much like the short hemmed flapper dresses of a couple of decades earlier but it fell out of fashion in the mid-1960s with the emphasis placed on more natural, practical, and wearable silhouettes.
The following images were taken by Gracie Opulanza who attended Goodwood Revival vintage car racing event.
Christian Dior And The New Look
In post-War France, it was thought the dominance of French fashion was finally waning, as the war period had been tough on the industry. During World War II, Christian Dior worked for the fashion house of designer Lucien Lelong, who worked to preserve the French fashion industry during the war (along with other wartime designers like Patou and Lanvin).
In spite of the uncertainty of the times, Dior founded his own fashion house on December 16, 1946. He realised that the post-war austerity would be coming to an end and the French fashion world needed to be reinvigorated in order to survive.
He launched his first collection in February 1947, for S/S 1947. There were two lines called “Corolle” and “Huit”, but they’ve been known as the “New Look” ever since the editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar remarked about the collection, “It’s such a New Look!”
And it was a new look. Gone were the boxy and austere fashions inspired more by the need for fabric rationing than by the feminine form. They were replaced with the ultra-feminine and romantic designs of the New Look.
His designs featured voluminous skirts with padded hips and petticoats that flared around the legs below mid-calf length and were nipped in at the waist with boned and figure-hugging bodices. The shoulders were soft (not padded) and jackets featured peplums. The bust and hips were emphasised very much like the Belle Epoch era of Dior’s childhood, of which he was said to have been inspired. The result was a very feminine, curve-defining fashion, which was very modern for the time.
Reaction To The New Look
We are seeing a resurgence of the New Look. Designers are paying homage to this ultra-feminine look in early 2013 and it will be interesting to see what this trend brings.
At first, there was some resistance to this revolutionary look. It’s important to remember that fabric was still scarce at the time of its debut and there was small backlash for the amount of fabric utilised in each look – dresses during wartime were made with about three yards of fabric, while one of Dior’s creations could use up to 25 yards! Women also balked at the return to longer skirts, since they had become used to shorter hems.
But this initial reaction fell by the wayside, as wartime rationing and scarcity came to an end and women welcomed the return to a luxurious and feminine look. Dior’s new designs actually dominated fashion well into the 1950s, putting Paris back at the centre of the fashion world and defining most of the women’s fashions for a decade. Everything during this period was a reaction to the New Look – either trying to copy it or attempting to unseat it as the predominant look.
Finally, in 1957, the glamorous New Look era came to an end. Whether it was Dior’s untimely death (he was only 52 years old) or that the slimmer silhouette (championed by Chanel and Balenciaga among others) finally won out, the soft hourglass of the New Look was finally out after a decade of domination. It wasn’t until 1960 though that another look moved in to take the world by storm as the New Look had -and that was the “Jackie” look.
The New Look in 2013
The Autumn/Winter 2013 collections have seen a return to the New Look. Many designers have been inspired by the New Look (also called Mid-Century) this season and it’s apparent in their collections. Designers ranging from Miu Miu, Prada, Lanvin, and Oscar de la Renta all feature mid-century tailoring in their A/W 2013 collections.
Take a look and see what we mean.
Firstly from the RTW from Dior, there were some very mid-century-esque moments on the catwalk. This strapless lace tea-length gown looks like it stepped out of the movie Sabrina from 1954, starring Audrey Hepburn. It has that nipped-in waist and voluminous skirt of the Dior New Look. Creative Director of Dior, Raf Simons, is keeping very close to the heritage of the Dior brand with this collection.
The vintage Dior is stunning unlike today’s Dior which is for me far from its DNA.
If you are seeking vintage Dior, then on-line luxury fashion at Vestiaire Collective is a brilliant website to buy and sell Dior. They vet everything to make sure it’s authentic Dior.
Oscar de la Renta
Oscar de la Renta’s RTW A/W 2013 collection also had some mid-century notes as well. There were gorgeous belted coats/dresses to the most stunning ball gowns that looked like quite literally something from the runways of the mid-1950s. The dress features a telltale hourglass shape with a full skirt. John Galliano is said to have maybe had a hand in some of this collection, although there’s been no official word of that from the brand.
The A/W 2013 RTW collection is a sweet and demure collection. It’s very ladylike and romantic and that in of itself is a nod to the mid-century New Look. Specifically, it’s the long skirts with the off-the-shoulder, belted and scalloped bottom jackets that are very reminiscent of Dior’s New Look though – especially the one pictured above.
Nice modern twist but nothing like vintage Dior.
Miu Miu is always good for a bit of fun. The line by Miuccia Prada (also of Prada) has a whimsical side so this A/W 2013 collection was no surprise and while no one would say that this collection is pure New Look, it is easy to see the inspiration in this design – the longer length, the emphasis on the hips, the soft shoulders and the overall feminine tone of this look.
The Rochas RTW A/W 2013 collection could be summed up as prim and pretty, but with a hint of relaxed effortlessness throw in to keep it from being too prim. The collection overall has an air of the New Look about it – with the long skirts, fur-trimmed cuffs, billowy coats, belted jackets over skirts, and a certain soft, feminine quality. This skirt is definitely an inspiration from that decade of dominance by the New Look with its volume.
For me below is utter trash and just horrible.
This is Dior 2021 collection. I died and went to fashion heaven when I saw what Dior has recreated for their 2021 summer collection.