For the A to Z blogging challenge I’ve decided to blog about the 1940′s. And in the spirit of the 1940′s, at the end of the month, I’ll be giving away an ebook copy of one of my favorite books, Summer at Tiffany, to one of my newsletter subscribers (sign-up on the sidebar if you are so inclined.) It’s a light-hearted memoir of two college girls let loose in New York City for a summer. What a hoot.
During World War II, even clothing fell victim to rationing. Styles for civilians resembled military garb. Simple, square shouldered, and shorter skirts. Even after the war ended, clothing trends continued to reflect the times of hardship and sacrifice of the war years.
Enter a new designer by the name of Christian Dior in 1947. He was poised to return the center of fashion back to France with his Corolla collection, featuring designs with excessive amounts of luxurious fabrics. The collection celebrated the fact that the war was over, and signaled a focus on youth and the future.
Here is a video recreating the photo shoot of one of the iconic outfits:
Christian Dior – Bar tailleur New Look 1947
The designs were based on a figure-8 shape, and an upside-down flower. (Corolla means flower petals in English.)
Trouble was, some women were glad to have gained the freedom to go without girdles and underpinnings, and to wear leg-baring skirts. So much so that they protested this New Look across the country.
To wear the New Look, girls had to don a girdle to cinch in the waist, wear shoulder pads to round out the shoulders, and add a little “sausage” pad on the hips to poof out the skirt.
Model Bobbie Woodward organized The Little Below the Knee Club which spread to 48 states. All they wanted was to keep skirts as short as a little below the knee. Protest signs read: “We won’t revert to Granma’s skirt.”
And the Women’s Organization to War on Styles (WOWS) stripped down to their undergarments in protest, holding signs asking: “Do we need padding?”
I’ve got pictures of these protestors pinned to my 1940s Home Front board:
But overall, the New Look was a hit around the world. Women were tired of the plain styles and found they could achieve similar looks without the restrictive foundation garments. Dior’s new designs were a success, and his career was launched.
Christian Dior: The Man Behind The Myth