New Look of 1950s Women's Fashion

When we talk about retro fashion, the first thing you might think of is a bright round skirt with a printed shirt and high heels. Put on a hat and some elegant sunglasses, and voila! When it comes to it, you have the "ideal" retro look that all of us would think of. Yes, certain Parisian chic of the 1950s fashion has left a permanent mark on our brains and the fashion world, because they continue to influence our new trends and fashion choices 70 years later. Just like now, the iconic fashion decade has been greatly influenced by some popular designers who set fashion trends and rules for that era. One of them is the idol Christian Dior. Read on to understand the main characteristics of fashion in the 1950s and how Christian Dior's first collection influenced fashion in this decade.

1950s Fashion

1950s ashionAlmost every decade of fashion has its signature features that it’s recognized by, but the style of the 1950s was so significant and distinguished that you’d recognize it in just one glance. The features and trends that prevailed in the 50s still find their way into our modern fashion and are considered “classics” forever as they’ll probably never go out of style. Tailored and high waisted trousers, high heeled pumps, smart and fitted blouses, circle skirts, a-line dresses, polka dots, tweed jacket and skirt duos, and dramatic hats were just a few of the features of the revolutionary fashion era. The question is, who brought these groundbreaking trends to life? That’s right, the iconic and inspiring designer, Christian Dior.

Christian Dior’s “New Look”

New look 1947Released to the public on February 12th of 1947, “New Look” was Christian Dior’s debut collection with the main purpose of reviving French-dominated fashion industry after the World War II and bringing new life to the classy and feminine style of Paris. The revolutionary collection’s name came from praise for the modern and chic designs by the former editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar, Carmel Snow, when she told Christian Dior, “Your dresses have such a new look!” Thus, the world of fashion changed for the better. After having 60 million Francs invested in his couture house by his friend and owner of a clothing company, Marcel Boussac, Dior went on to be, quite possibly, the biggest influence in post-war fashion that the world had seen.

The new collection had its significant features that went on to define the fashion of the 50s later on. Cinched waists flowing into large and dramatic skirts, often pleated. Flattering, tailored jackets with soft shoulders and in royal and mature shades. These signature points in his collection showed his yearning to bring back femininity in fashion, which had disappeared momentarily in the 40s. Inspired by the ethereal and feminine style of the 30s, Dior increased the use of the yards and yards of fabric in his work to add more flare and flow in the skirts and dresses. The ballgown-esque skirts also created the illusion of a smaller waist, which worked well with his plan to accentuate an hourglass silhouette on whoever wore his work.

evening gownWhen it came to evening gowns in his “New Look” collections, Dior went all out. He relished in his excess use of fabric to create an even more dramatic and royal effect by using tulle as the main fabric for the skirts to its lightweight properties. Working with golden and blue glitters, two evening gowns really stood out from his 1949 collection.

Dior’s vision for a flamboyant but feminine future for fashion brought with itself new trends, styles, and techniques which became classics and are still used in modern fashion to this day. His work in his “New Look” collections in the 40s and 50s paved a path for artistic, sophisticated, and royal fashion for upcoming designers and brands.

Revival Of the “New Look”

Fall Winter DiorAfter the 50s ended, the features and styles from “New Look” didn’t cease to exist. In fact, they left their impact clearly and boldly in the fashion industry as some of these trends are still in style and will probably stay in style forever. Although Christian Dior is no longer with us, the designers carrying his legacy find a way to revive the “New Look” collection every new season by adding their own modern touch each time. For example, the Fall/Winter 2019 collection of Dior featured flowy and dramatic skirts once more, but in a modern and bright white. The designers stuck with the traditional hourglass figure and made the bold shoulders the statement of the outfit.

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