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1945-1960 Fashions

1945-1960 in fashion

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Women's Fashion from 1945-1960 was dominated by nylon, beehive hairstyles, petticoats, bold femininity, bright lipstick, and often the projection of a 'cheerful, happy' persona.

When the French fashion houses reopened after World War II, Dior introduced the "New Look" silhouette. Because war restrictions on textiles ceased, the New Look silhouette included longer skirts, either full or fitted. Emphasis on the waist and soft shoulder lines also marked Dior's influence at this time. [1] In, until hemlines began to rise and a more futuristic egg-type silhouette began to appear in 1958.

Actress Joan Crawford in 1948, wearing the new, longer skirts which characterisd post-war feminine fashions



[edit] 1950's

A whole society which, in the 1920s and 1930s, had greatly believed in progress, was now much more circumspect. As fashion looked to the past, haute couture experienced something of a revival and spawned a myriad of star designers who profited hugely from the rapid growth of the media. Long, elegant skirts and cinched waists dominated women's fashion once more.

A typical woman's dress, 1955

The frugal prince of luxury, Cristobal Balenciaga Esagri made his fashion debut in the late thirties. However, it was not until the post-war years that the full scale of the inventiveness of this highly original designer became evident. In 1951, he totally transformed the silhouette, broadening the shoulders and removing the waist. In 1955, he designed the tunic dress, which later developed into the chemise dress of 1957. And eventually, in 1959, his work culminated in the Empire line, with high-waisted dresses and coats cut like kimonos. His mastery of fabric design and creation defied belief. Balanciaga is also notable as one of the few couturiers in fashion history who could use their own hands to design, cut, and sew the models which symbolized the height of his artistry. Hubert de Givenchy opened his first couture house in 1952 and created a sensation with his separates, which could be mixed and matched at will. Most renowned was his Bettina blouse made from shirting, which was named after his top model. Soon, boutiques were opened in Rome, Zurich, and Buenos Aires. A man of immense taste and discrimination, he was, perhaps more than any other designer of the period, an integral part of the world whose understated elegance he helped to define.

Pierre Balmain opened his own salon in 1945. It was in a series of collections named 'Jolie Madame' that he experienced his greatest success, from 1952 onwards. Balmain's vision of the elegantly-dressed woman was particularly Parisian and was typified by the tailored glamour of the New Look, with its ample bust, narrow waist, and full skirts, by mastery of cut and imaginative assemblies of fabrics in subtle color combinations. His sophisticated clientèle was equally at home with luxurious elegance, simple tailoring, and a more natural look. Along with his haute couture work, the talented businessman pioneered a ready-to-wear range called Florilege and also launched a number of highly successful perfumes.

Following the closure of her salons in the war years, in 1954 Coco Chanel staged a comeback. On February 5 she presented a collection which contained a whole range of ideas that would be adopted and copied by women all over the world: her famous little braided suit with gold chains, shiny costume jewelry, silk blouses in colors that matched the suit linings, sleek tweeds, monogrammed buttons, flat black silk bows, boaters, quilted bags on chains, and evening dresses and furs that were marvels of simplicity.

Despite being a high fashion designer, American born Mainbocher also designed military and civilian service uniforms. In 1952, he redesigned the Women Marines service uniform combining femininity with functionality. Previous redesigns include uniforms for the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) in 1942, and uniform designs for the Girl Scouts of America and the American Red Cross in 1948.

Certain London manufacturers ushered in a revival of Edwardian elegance in men's fashion, adopting a tight-fitting retro style that was intended to appeal to traditionalists. This look, originally aimed at the respectable young man about town, was translated into popular fashion as the Teddy boy style. The Italian look, popularized by Caraceni, Brioni, and Cifonelli, was taken up by an entire generation of elegant young lovers, on both sides of the Atlantic.

Quantitatively speaking, a costume worn by an actress in a Hollywood movie would have a much bigger audience than the photograph of a dress designed by a couturier illustrated in a magazine read by no more than a few thousand people. Without even trying to keep track of all the Paris styles, its costume designers focused on their own version of classicism, which was meant to be timeless, flattering, and photogenic. Using apparently luxurious materials, such as sequins, chiffon, and fur, the clothes were very simply cut, often including some memorable detail, such as a low-cut back to a dress which was only revealed when the actress turned her back from the camera or some particularly stunning accessory. The most influential and respected designers of Hollywood from the 1930s to the 1950s were Edith Head, Orry-Kelly, William Travilla, Jean Louis, Travis Banton, and Gilbert Adrian.

[edit] Teenage fashion

By the end of the decade mass-manufactured, off-the-peg clothing had become much more popular than in the past, granting the general public unprecedented access to fashionable styles.

Short hair was very popular for young women in the 1950s
Beatnik girls in Venice, California, 1959

In the 1960s, pop culture was more focused on teenagers and their interests, including rock n roll. Youth fashions influenced the fashion industry. In the UK, the Teddy boy became both a style icon and an anti-authoritarian figures, whilst in North America, greasers had a similar social position. Previously, teenagers dressed similarly to their parents, but now a rebellious and different youth style was being developed. Rock and Roll gave people the freedom to dress with more individuality. This was particularly noticeable in the overtly sexual nature of their dress. Some young men wore tight trousers, leather jackets, and tee shirts; these men often grew their hair out and, with pomade or other hair treatments, coiffed their hair into pompadours. Men's hair fashion favored the wet look, achieved by the use of products such as Brylcreem. Young women and older teenage girls usually wore their hair cut short and upswept from the forehead in imitation of their favourite film stars, while the younger teens tied their hair back in a ponytail and wore a short fringe (bangs). The beehive was also very popular from 1958 until the mid-1960s.

Beatniks with their stereotypical sunglasses, berets, black turtlenecks, and unadorned dark clothing provided another fashion alternative for youths of both sexes.

[edit] Maternity Wear

In the 1950s, Lucille Ball was the first woman to show her pregnancy on TV. [1][2] The television show I Love Lucy brought new attention to maternity wear. Most of the maternity dresses were two pieces with loose tops and narrow skirts. Stretch panels accommodated for the woman's growing figure. The baby boom of the 1940s to the 1950s also caused focus on maternity wear. Even international designers such as Miguel Dorian, Givenchy, and Norman Hartnell created maternity wear clothing lines. Despite the new emphasis on maternity wear in the 1950s maternity wear fashions were still being photographed on non-pregnant women for advertisements. [3]

On September 29, 1959, the maternity panty [2]was patented which provided expansion in the vertical direction of the abdomen. The front panel of this maternity undergarment was composed of a high degree of elasticity so in extreme stretched conditions, the woman could still feel comfortable. [4]

[edit] Children's Wear

Due to the baby boom, there was a high demand for clothing for children. Children's clothing now was made with better quality, as well. Some even adopted trends popular with teenagers; many boys started wearing jeans to Elementary school. Many girls' and young women's dresses were styled after those of the older women, but never after any of the styles considered to be in any way suggestive at that time.

[edit] Image gallery

[edit] Notes and References

  1. ^ Tortora, P., & Eubank, K. (2005). A survey of historic costume. pp 415-420. New York: Fairchild
  2. ^ Scholarly Article. "Celebrate Women's History Month" Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. copyright 2008.
  3. ^ Phyllis G. Tortora and Keith Eubank. Survey of Historic Costume. 4th Edition. 2005. Fairchild publications. pg. 432 and 439
  4. ^ D. L. Rosenburg. September 29, 1959. United States Patent Office. Maternity Panty.
  5. ^ Paperpast Yearbook,ww.paperpast.com/html/1950_fashion.html

Samek, Susan M. "Uniformly Feminine: the "Working Chic" of Mainbocher." Dress 20 (1993): 33-41.

[edit] External Links

1.) Patent to the Maternity Panty [3]

[edit] See also

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