Famous fashion designer Christian Dior presented his debut collection in Paris on Feb. 12, 1947. This collection was immediately dubbed as the “New Look” because it rejected modern ideas about fashion that had been adopted in the 1920s and 30s. It was also a departure from the utilitarian fashions of the 1940s.
Dior wanted to recreate a time period when women were dressed extravagantly and wanted to be glamorous. It was a call for the good old days and prosperity, and many women across multiple generations and social classes went for it.
However, not everyone was enamored with the look. His clothing consisted of hip padding, pleats, draperies, embellishments and many more exaggerations, and some considered this to be a regression of sorts for women everywhere. They felt the long skirts and corsets hindered the freedom of women and took away the independence they had gained during World War II. Coco Chanel made the comment, “Dior doesn’t dress women, he upholsters them.”
Some say the return of corsets symbolized the return of women to the home from jobs in hospitals, factories, and offices. The lavish fabric used in his designs also signaled an end to government restriction on materials. During the 1930s, both rich and poor women dressed the same due to the Depression, but Dior’s exclusive New Look divided the classes once again.
Dior died in 1957, and by the early 1960s, the New Look was gone from the house of Dior collections, but it experienced a revival in the 1990s and again in the early part of the 21st century.