Christian Dior – The ‘New look’ to the S/S’15 Collection

“A dress is a piece of ephemeral architecture, designed to enhance the portions of the female body.” Christian Dior.

Christian Dior, Bar Suit. 1947

Figure 1. Christian Dior, Bar Suit. 1947

Christian Dior, from his start collections in 1947 to Christian Dior by Raf Simons collections in the more recent years, all embody the shape and movement of the female body. By embracing and harmonising the shape of the feminine body allows the silhouette to encompass a clear cut ‘classic beauty’ for the body, where the waist is narrow and bust and hips are wide, allowing to conform to the ‘perfect partitions of the idealistic body, dating back to Vitruvius’ ideas from 1st century BC. Christian Dior’s first ground breaking collection in 1947, titled “New Look”- (Figure 1) enabled women to “return to the idea of civilised happiness”(Christian Dior). Due to the war ending in 1945, Dior unequivocally turned the views of rationing, uniforms and restriction to a dress code of lightheartedness and seduction, which Dior was previously familiar with in his childhood. His aim was to extract women out of uniform and ‘practical’ clothing, which was needed in the war period and renew the abandoned traditional dress of elegance.

“I wanted my dresses to be constructed, moulded on the curves of the female body whose contours they would stylise. I accentuated the waist, the volume of the hips, I emphasised the bust. In order to give my model more hold, I had nearly all the fabrics lined with percale or taffeta, renewing a tradition that had long been abandoned”
Christian Dior

At the time, this collection was considered by some controversial as it took back the freedom that women had earned whilst the happenings of the world war were taking place. Women were viewed as equals due to the need of a female to replace a man, and his requirements, however, Dior removed this right when the “New Look’ collection was realised due to his desire to return back to tradition.

The “New Look” innovation proceeds to inspire Raf Simons, as he reinterprets the legendary curves of the clothing in his latest collections, including his Spring/Summer ’15 line.

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Christian Dior by Raf Simons. Spring/Summer’15

This dress evokes the traditional silhouette of Dior. Due to the cut of waist provides the emphasises on the width of the bust and hips, creating a feminine form. Raf Simons, has used ideas from Dior with consideration to a modern context as the materials used are more practical to a woman of the twenty-first century. The cut-outs allow for the classic silhouette without using a corset or thick materials such as taffeta, which restrict movement and comfort.

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Christian Dior by Raf Simons. Spring/Summer’15

Due to modern technology, a futuristic twist can be presented on a garment of classicality. The shape of the heel demonstrates the advanced modern technology on today, which allows balance and strength on such a curve.

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Christian Dior by Raf Simons. Spring/Summer’15

This collection of garment evokes the modern day “bar suit” from the “New Look” collection. The cut of the material is essential in the jacket as the curve isused to accentuate the bust, nip in the waist and heighten the hips. Although being high structure to the form of this suit, the modern day has been taking into consideration as the skirt length is shortened, allowing higher practicality.

Watch the Spring/Summer’15 catwalk below:

Ella Elysia x

Alexander McQueen – VOSS

Alexander McQueen’s, 2001 Spring/Summer collection, VOSS, offers a commentary on the relationship between the beautiful and the grotesque. McQueen states that his “collections have always been autobiographical…They were to do with [his] childhood, the way [he] think[s] about life and the way [he] was brought up to think.” With the perception that McQueen’s collections reveal truths about his own personal life, one can examine his collection to learn and define the designer.
Voss is a municipality of Norway, which is renowned for its host of species, particularly its bird-life. This closely links with the materials used in many of Alexander McQueen’s garments therefore suggesting reasoning behind the collection’s name.
“One of McQueen’s greatest legacies was how he would challenge your expectations of beauty” . Through this statement, one can make the presumption that, VOSS, was in fact, all about beauty. Alexander McQueen presented the catwalk as a theatrical piece, where elements were included to distract the viewer away from the attention of the model, but rather upon self-reflection. The first model on the catwalk was Kate Moss, who wore a beige dress, with cascading feathers starting from the shoulder and white fabric wrapped around her head, symbolising bandages.

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Kate Moss

Michelle Olley

Michelle Olley

Alexander McQueen described the dressings as a representation of surgery – surgery to change ones appearance. Due to the first garment presented as being a direct reference to beauty and appearance, McQueen is able to achieve a focal point for the collection. At the end of the show, McQueen’s desired message of acceptance was exposed through the dramatic revelation of Michelle Olley, whom lounged across a lace sofa, whilst surrounded by moths.

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Witkin’s photograph, ‘Sanatorium’

This was inspired by Witkin’s photograph, ‘Sanatorium’. From my perspective, moths represent vulnerability, as they are a creature of the night and therefore are highly influenced by the power of the moon. The moon is a symbol of femininity but also madness. This could refer back to the meaning of McQueen’s collection, suggesting that females can reach stages of mental illness in their search to perfection. This collection also prefigures his own battles with mental health, (mixed anxiety and depressive disorder), consequently leading to his suicide in 2010.

Alexander McQueen took inspiration from many mediums. The 1963, Alfred Hitchcock film, ‘The Birds’, influenced a garment where taxidermy eagles were plunging down onto a petrified female.

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The eagles could have many symbolic meanings, which McQueen allowed the viewer to establish themselves. I took this garment to represent entrapment and the lack of control an individual holds over themselves. Eagles represent freedom and power. By giving the sight that the eagles are in control of a human, could signify the lack of freedom one feels, (linking in with the location of a psychiatric unit) consequently leading to a lack of control they have over themselves. By having such a strong symbolic garment, may possibly be an expression of McQueen’s own personal feelings of anxiety and depression, from which he feels lack of control in his own mind.

One of the most famous garments within the collection, is the scarlet feathered evening gown,) worn by Erin O’Connor. This garment consists of an ostrich feathered skirt, dyed red and black, with each feather individual sewn together by hand. The bodice is made from 2,000 microscope slides, signifying how one puts the models body under a microscope (close examination and scrutiny). They are painted red, representing blood. McQueen states that “there’s blood beneath every layer of skin” suggesting that humans have multiple layers, physically, but also emotionally.

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In view of above, McQueen’s designs for this collection foreshadow his own battles with mental health, whilst simultaneously giving the critics an inquisitorial outlook of what they consider beautiful.

Hope you found this helpful.

Ella Elysia x

Hello

Paul Smiths exhibition, ‘Hello, my name is Paul Smith’, gives me a great chance to introduce myself. Hello, my name is Ella. This is my very first post of my first blog. I’m not really sure how this whole blogging world works, so bare with me if it’s not quite right just yet. If you hadn’t noticed, this is a fashion blog, so Paul Smith’s exhibition in the design museum, London, creates a gateway for me to express my deep love for him. Anyone who attended, I’m sure would agree with me that he is such an inspiration as a character and as one of our own British designer’s. Being a proud patriotic person who is fascinated with fashion, this exhibition, as you can imagine, was captivating.

Entering all the rooms felt like a  map of his mind. Although at first sight, the way the exhibition was arranged did not make logical sense to me, I came to realise how the mind of Paul Smith worked and how he become inspired for his creations. I entered a black screened room with a mirrored ceiling (the above picture).Flashes of colour and patterns reflected off each wall and surrounded me; something that was so simple but felt surreal. Individuality. Something Paul Smith was obsessed with. From the visual aspects of his shops to his designs. His office was crammed and full of objects, objects that seemed so random to anybody else but him. Objects which he collected from his travels across the globe – things that “interest[ed]” and “amuse[d]” him.

IMG_1871 “The office is the equivalent of my brain.” – Paul

Paul Smith expressed that he had desk which he had never sat at because it is totally covered in things. – This started to sound like the clutter of my bedroom, things that I have hoarded over the years but will not let them go. I say I’m expressing myself; my mother has a different story… laziness. “From all the things accumulated in my office, one idea will form and will be the inspiration for a new collection” – Paul Smith. This exhibition was great to understand how and where designers are inspired. I’d love to know what you thought about the exhibition.

 Ella Elysia x