January 2008

The New Look: The Dior Revolution

The Wellfleet Press

  • 114 Northfield Avenue
  • Edison , NJ

0-7858-0963-5

This year marks the 60th anniversary of Christian Dior’s first collection as a couturier. The dress most identified with “The New Look” signature consisted of an off-white tight fitted waist coat and full volume black skirt.  This silhouette was meant to embrace femininity and all its charms, yet the lines still suggest discipline and formality.  With all its quiet sophistication, it is hard to believe that this dress not only influenced design in all areas outside of fashion – but also was considered controversial during this point in history.  abc The New Look: The Dior Revolution xyz is not only a biography of the man behind the dress, but the history of haute couture and the rise of ready-to-wear.

World War II was happening.  Designs produced during this crucial period had huge influence on casual clothes since the war.  Shortages resulted in rations of materials and styles were necessarily conservative.  Dior defied this reality by using more than 25 yards of fabric to make his skirts.  When the war was over, the world was ready for something new.  Dubbed the New Look, it was reminiscent of the opulence of abc la belle poque xyz , the time immediately before World War I when the century was young and optimistic.  Dior’s New Look seized the world’s imagination.  It exploded like no style before or since.  It can still be seen as the foundation of post-war fashion.

abc The New Look: The Dior Revolution xyz critically looks at what was happening within the industry between countries and between occupations. Dior is not the only couturier mentioned in the book.  All the major players of the day have honorable and dishonorable mentions (Madame Gres, Balenciaga, Chanel.etc.).  Beneath the surface of all the hoop-la, there is analysis of style and society, women at war, and the influence of Hollywood.  All things considered, fashion and film fed fantasies to a populace when times were down to keep them up.  Dior ignited this with his dress that inspired more than a look.

Reviewer: Glenda Ronduen, FIDM Library Staff Member