jammfsession: ephemeral-elegance: It’s the end of another…

Willy Maywald's photo of the Bar Suit

The Bar Suit being shown at La Ligne Corolle fashion show, Feb. 12, 1947

Christian Dior's original sketch of the Bar Suit

April 1947 Vogue featuring the New Look silhouette



It’s the end of another week, so it must be time for FRIDAY FASHION FACT!  Some of the most popular pieces I post are the stereotypical 1950s dresses- structured bodices, cinched waists, and big, full skirts. This iconic, feminine style stems from the post-war New Look.

Those of you who know fashion well have probably heard of the New Look. You probably recognize the famous image of the Parisian model in the Dior skirt and blazer. Many people believe that Christian Dior was the first designer to create this shape, but that is not completely true. Due to extensive shortages of material during World War II, clothing became very tailored and fitted. As the war came to a close, though, designers took advantage of the newly available materials. Skirts began to get more full and shoulders more prominent, as they had been before the war.

In February 1947, just 3 months after launching his own company, Christian Dior showed his first line, “La Ligne Corolle,” at his shop in Paris. The collection took the changing fashions to the next level. The tailored bodices featured tiny waistlines, sloping shoulders, and prominent busts, while the skirts took the growing fullness to a new level, utilizing vast yardage of fabric. It was an instant success. The editor of Haper’s Bazaar, Carmen Snow, was a fan of Dior from his earlier days working for Rober Piguet, and so attended this first show. She proclaimed, “It’s quite a revelation, dear Christian! Your dresses have such a new look!” A corespondent for Reuters, who was also in attendance, sent the phrase to her editor, and it was printed the following day. Less than 2 months later, the New Look was on the cover of Vogue, quickly followed by fashion magazines around the world. Throughout the next several years, Christian Dior continued to refine his style, further accentuating each feature. Of course, countless designers followed Dior’s lead, and the New Look silhouette became the standard.

The New Look is epitomized by the Bar Suit, a look from the Corolle collection. The black pleated skirt and cream morning jacket with built-in underpinnings and body-shapers were captured in a photograph by the legendary Willy Maywald. The image is arguably the most famous fashion photo in history.

Want to learn more about post-war fashion and the New Look? Check out these books:

Fashion in the 1940s, by Jayne Shrimpton

Inspiration Dior, by Florence Muller

Have a question about fashion history you want answered in the next FRIDAY FASHION FACT? Just click the ASK button at the top of the page!

The inspiration for one of Claire’s Parisian dresses in season 2!

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