Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Christian Dior (January 21, 1905 – October 23, 1957), was an influential French fashion designer, best known as the founder of one of the world's top fashion houses. He was born in Granville, Normandy, a seaside town off the coast of France. The actual name of the line was Corolle (roughly petal in French), but the phrase New Look was coined for it by Carmel Snow, the editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar. Dior's designs were more voluptuous than the boxy, fabric-conserving shapes of the recent World War II styles, influenced by the rations on fabric. He was a master at creating shapes and silhouettes; Dior is quoted as saying "I have designed flower women." His look employed fabrics lined predominantly with percale, boned, bustier-style bodices, hip padding, wasp-waisted corsets and petticoats that made his dresses flare out from the waist, giving his models a very curvaceous form. The hem of the skirt was very flattering on the calves and ankles, creating a beautiful silhouette. Initially, women protested because his designs covered up their legs, which they had been unused to because of the previous limitations on fabric. There was also some backlash to Dior's designs form due to the amount of fabrics used in a single dress or suit--during one photo shoot in a Paris market, the models were attacked by female vendors over the profligacy of their dresses--but opposition ceased as the wartime shortages ended. For the duration of World War II, Christian Dior dressed the wives of the Nazi officers and French collaborators. The New Look revolutionized women's dress and reestablished Paris as the center of the fashion world after World War II.