Thursday, May 13, 2010

Style on Trial: The 1940's Part 2 - Post War and Dior's 'New Look'

The second part of the 1940s Style on Trial concentrates on the post war years. Once the war was over and the men back home jobs for women became obsolete and women were forced back into the role of homemaker. Fashions started to reflect this and in February 1947 Dior brought out his Corolle line also known as the 'New Look'. This was a collection that Dior had started working on before the war. It was an autobiographical line as it reflected the outfits Dior remembered his mother wearing when he was a young boy - these being big skirts and tiny waists and high set busts.

The line was controversial as Britain was still rationing material and it was deemed as wasteful. Vogue was banned from talking about the line. Even the House of Commons got involved and deemed it an unpatriotic used of materials that were still in short supply.

The line was deemed as a reclaiming of femininity by some. It also re-elevated the class system as during the war mistresses wore the same outfits as their staff so it was hard to see clear class divide. However it was a set back for some as during the war women showed themselves to be independent and self-sufficient, easily adapting to take traditionally male roles and jobs but after the war women were sent back to the home to become once again the pretty "Victorian doll" like wives and mothers.

Dior's New Look was eventually accepted in the UK but they used cleverly designed outfits to give the appearance of fullness that the look has without using so much material.

The 1940s was an important decade for style for many other reasons including:
  • The bikini being invented in 1946
  • Printed Patterns created
  • Wooden soles were used on shoes instead of material
  • Nylon stockings were created and mass produced
  • New materials such as Lurex, Rayon and Polyester were created

Icons of the period mostly came from the silver screen as people went to the movies to escape the realities of war. Film heroines of this period became self sufficient and smart rather than the simpering helpless women in need of rescuing that was seen in movies before this time. Icons of the period included:

  • The Queen
  • Lauren Bacall
  • Fred and Ginger
  • Katherine Hepburn
  • David Niven
  • The Beverly Sisters
  • Jane Russell
  • Marlene Dietrich

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