Dior turns back to the 1950s, As Paris, Fashion Week begins.
The 1950s were way hipper than you might imagine. A message was conveyed as the Paris Fashion Week kicked off with a Dior presentation that challenged the outdated perception of that era. This was the style of Juliette Gréco and the café society of Paris’s Rive Gauche (left bank) instead of pastel knitwear and milkshakes: strong black coffee and matching little black dresses.
According to Maria Grazia Chiuri, the designer, the 1950s have been monopolized in the public consciousness by the US, so she set out to reclaim them for France. She cited the sentimental photographs of photographer Richard Avedon, saying, “I realized that like many foreigners, so much of my image of France was formed by Paris as it is seen through an American lens”.
Chiuri selected Catherine Dior, Gréco, and Édith Piaf as the season’s inspirations to find the French female narrative of the 1950s because they “lived very different lives but shared a sense of rebellion – and who loved to wear black.” Sister of the company’s creator, Christian Dior, Catherine Dior served in the French resistance and was known by the code name “Caro” for gathering intelligence on the movements of German soldiers and warships.
She was detained by the Gestapo, taken to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, and subsequently granted the French Légion donner after fleeing in 1945.
In a reference to Gréco, a Dior customer in the 1950s, the show began with a model wearing a white shirt that was ravishingly unbuttoned and a basic, straight black skirt.
An opera-gloved hand swayed a classy black purse. With her many achievements, including breaching the US a decade before the Beatles while performing in France, Piaf was also present in spirit. She was dressed in a black beret and a T-shirt with the phrase “Je Ne Regrette Rien,” along with lots of kohl makeup and mismatched jewelry. The clothing was a gloomy, noir-chic interpretation of the 1950s, with storm clouds for the following decade collecting in the distance.
The shape embodied the poised lines and slender elegance that Dior would later come to represent in the second half of the 1950s when the full-skirted New Look’s early ebullience gave way to more graphic lines.
The black boxy jacket and straight skirt from the “New York” dress, created by Yves Saint Laurent, who worked under Christian Dior and took over the company after Dior’s passing in 1957, was mirrored in the simplicity of the inky skirts and jackets.
Instead of reconstructing from the past, contemporary fabrics were used to accomplish a significant shift in attitude: whereas the clothing of the 1950s was stiff, the 2023 counterparts don their great volume lightly.
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