Today’s the anniversary of the launch of Christian Dior’s “New Look” in 1947. The suit in the photo is from that collection. This look is reprised decade after decade because it looks fabulous on women. Women were allowed to have hips! We didn’t have to look like boys or prepubescent girls in order to fit into our clothes.
Thanks to his designs, Christian Dior was a household name and sales of his fashions accounted for fully one half of French haute couture exports. His soft skirts made with yards of fabric were a huge departure from the war-time silhouette that economized on material. He said he was designing for “flower women” and named the collection Corolle after the inside of a flower. “Flower women” were also useful in a society where women who had been self-sufficient during the war were supposed to leave their jobs and return back home to care for their families. Some French women were so outraged by the profligate use of fabric in a world where rationing was still the order of the day that they physically attacked women wearing Dior outfits in public. King George V forbade the young princesses, Margaret and Elizabeth from wearing the “New Look” because it was a bad example in post-war Britain, although Dior was invited to present his fashions at a private show for the Royal family. By the way, the name was given to the collection by the American editor of Harper’s Bazaar, Carmel Snow.
Today’s expression, le dernier cri, (luh der-knee-ay cree) literally means “the latest scream” or, as we would say, “the latest thing.” I’m glad to see that reinterpretations of the “New Look” are the dernier cri for Spring 2011 ready-to-wear collections. Dior’s not in my budget for this year.