Christian Dior founded the House of Dior in 1947. The period between 1947-57 was the most historical period for the house. It has been a symbol of elegance and femininity through the times and continues to be associated with luxury. Christian Dior launched his first collection in 1947 that was termed the “New Look.” The collection featured rounded shoulders, A lined dresses that were big and voluminous using large amounts of fabric and his signature narrow waist. The large skirts celebrated femininity and opulence in women’s clothing. The Spring 1953 collection was dubbed “Tulip” and featured an abundance of flowy floral prints. The flowers were the essential stylistic element beloved by Christian Dior. This element is a signature in the current Dior collections as well and has been through the decades. The flora’s appeared printed, woven, appliquéd and embroidered in all the collections. Even today the Haute Couture fashion show is like a garden with walls filled hundreds of thousands of flowers in bright colors. Dior would often take inspiration from his own garden.
Spring 1955 introduced the A line skirt with its identifiable cinched waist and smooth silhouette that widens at the hips and legs. All the designers of the house including Raf Simons have used this silhouette. Raf Simons gave the “Esther dress” famous for its huge yardage a new look with the hem finishing at the thighs. The Bar jacket is another iconic and memorable piece created by Christian Dior. It is narrow at the waist and peplum accentuated hips. The “Cherie” dress from the Spring-Summer 1947 collection exemplified the “New Look” with sloped shoulders, raised buster, narrow waist and huge volume skirt falling away from the padded hipline. The skirt was made from the full width of the fabric from selvedge to selvedge. The pleating at the waist created a thirteen-yard seam allowance. Most dresses focused on the shoulders and a cinched waist. Shoulders were exposed, sloped or accentuated. Dior loved the scarf-like silhouette to frame the shoulders.
Dior was hugely influenced by the styles of the late 19th century. He had a heavily structured silhouette for the 50’s. The cinched waist used underpinnings that were created by the house rather than being bought and were about four inches in width. Dior loved the shawl collars and curved necklines and often used the wasp-waist silhouette. The gowns were corseted with full bloom skirts that gave the body an hourglass figure. Though known primarily for his ultra-feminine silhouettes, Dior adapted many aspects of menswear for his designs. Dior once said, “ Fashion always comes from a dream.” Dior’s iconic evening dress is one with which fabric is collected or wrapped to one side creating an asymmetrical hem that was influenced by the silhouette of a sarong and resulted in the appearance of a free flowing train.