1
Extended Essay
Research Question
Is Christian Dior’s ‘Bar’ suit a
reflection of the socio-economic
situation of France p...
2
Abstract
To approach this investigation, a detailed analysis into Dior’s ‘Bar’ suit was
drawn before it was linked with ...
3
Acknowledgments
I would like to thank my extended essay supervisor, Mdm. Chang Hung Tho, for
taking the time to read thr...
4
Title Page
Content Page
Pg. 1
Abstract Pg. 2
Acknowledgements Pg. 3
Content Page Pg. 4
Introduction Pg. 5
Silhouette Pg....
5
Haute couture is a practice that refers to
‘made-to-order’ and ‘made-to-measure’ fashion
produced only in Paris, by accr...
6
the women’s suit is accredited to designer John Redfern (Sozzani). However, it did
not erupt into popular dress until Co...
7
Silhouette
Hourglass, feminine
The silhouette of a look is defined to be the overall outline and shape that the
worn gar...
8
create a wasp-like bodice through the use of a multitude of discreet corset3
and
several layers of stiffened petticoats4...
9
Dior was known to detest the styles of the early 1940s flaunted by the French
women known as ‘zazous’ (Dior, 2007, p.4)....
10
and pockets at the hips supported the hourglass silhouette without compromising on
the ease of movement.
Retention of f...
11
Longer hemlines
One of the most controversial
aspects of Dior’s ‘New Look’ was his re-
introduction of the longer hemli...
12
made out of viscose and rayon, and any excessive use of fabric was ubiquitously
illegal (Veillon, 2002). Ration lines a...
13
Luxurious silk, cambric and taffeta
Texture
Texture, in fashion, is defined to be the fabric or material that a garment...
14
End of protectionist policies that restrict the importing of material
According to Dior, fabrics of high quality were p...
15
couture business should be moved to the German capital of Berlin (Mendes, 1999,
p.106). Instead, through the protest of...
16
Conclusion
In conclusion, based on the evidence provided it seems likely that Christian
Dior’s ‘Bar’ suit is a reflecti...
17
Appendix
A) PERKINS, J., 1948. Dior. Life Magazine.
18
B) (BASYE, 2010) 1923, Chanel shows a suit. Nothing to see here, Photograph,
Viewed 24/04/12 <http://onthisdayinfashion...
19
D) (Left) Giovanni Boldini, 1896, Portrait de Madame G. Blumenthal, Oil on Canvas,
Musée d’Orsay, Paris, Viewed 21/05/1...
20
E) Charles Frederick Worth, 1892, Evening Dress, garment of silk, crystal, metallic
threads, The Metropolitan Museum of...
21
G) Édition Réunies, 1943, The Zazous of the 1940s, Drawings, Paris, Viewed
21/05/12 <http://swingexpress.com/MSS/SSM/hi...
22
H) (PISON, 2010) Population et sociétés, The Baby Boom
I) 1911, The Hobble Skirt, What’s that? It’s the speed-limit ski...
23
J) 1916, Le travail des femmes (The work of women), Photographs, Viewed 21/05/12
<http://verdun-1916.chez-alice.fr/fram...
24
K) A Ration Line during the War, Photograph, France, Viewed 27/04/12
<http://cbertel.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/france...
25
M) (WTO, 1999) World Trade Organization, Average Tariff level and Trade volume
index against date of major establishmen...
26
BEEVOR, A., COOPER, A., 2004. PARIS After the Liberation 1944—1949
Revised Edition. Penguin Books.
Bibliography
Books
C...
27
HEILBRUN Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of
Art. Viewed 23/11/11
<http://www.metmuseum.org/t...
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  1. 1. 1 Extended Essay Research Question Is Christian Dior’s ‘Bar’ suit a reflection of the socio-economic situation of France post-World-War-II? Subject: Visual Arts Abstract word count: 267 Report word count: 3962 Number of pages: 27 Done by: Sarah Lee Shan Yun Candidate number: 003071-061 School: ACS (International), Singapore
  2. 2. 2 Abstract To approach this investigation, a detailed analysis into Dior’s ‘Bar’ suit was drawn before it was linked with evidence surrounding the socio-economic situation of France post-World-War-II. The elements of fashion design – silhouette and texture, were utilized within the analysis. In terms of research, I have read the autobiography of Christian Dior in order to gain a deeper insight into the thoughts and intentions of the designer, as well as to discover which factors he felt were most important whilst catering to his clientele during the post-war period. In addition, I have also read through several history books, some fashion-related and some war-related, in order to grasp an understanding of the circumstances which lead to the development of fashion, especially in the golden age of couture in France. An interview with a history teacher from my school, Ms. Bonny Morris, also enlightened me further on the subject. I have also been able to write a detailed analysis of the Dior’s famous ‘Bar’ suit by reading published articles and by including my own input through viewing pictures of the ‘Bar’ suit on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website. In conclusion, I have deduced that the silhouette of the ‘Bar’ suit reflects the change in the role of women in society, the retention of feminist attitudes and the end of economic restrictions post-war. I have also concluded that the texture of the ‘Bar’ suit reflects the end of protectionist policies and the widened gap between the upper class and middle class clientele. All in all, Christian Dior’s ‘Bar’ suit, therefore, is a reflection of the socio-economic situation of France post-World-War-II. 267 words
  3. 3. 3 Acknowledgments I would like to thank my extended essay supervisor, Mdm. Chang Hung Tho, for taking the time to read through and provide essential feedback so that I could continuously improve my essay. I would like to thank Ms. Bonny Morris, a history teacher of ACS (International), for imparting me with valuable information on history-related aspects of my essay through a vital interview.
  4. 4. 4 Title Page Content Page Pg. 1 Abstract Pg. 2 Acknowledgements Pg. 3 Content Page Pg. 4 Introduction Pg. 5 Silhouette Pg. 7 Texture Pg.13 Conclusion Pg. 16 Appendix Pg. 17 Bibliography Pg. 26
  5. 5. 5 Haute couture is a practice that refers to ‘made-to-order’ and ‘made-to-measure’ fashion produced only in Paris, by accredited couture houses (Riello, McNeil, 2010, p.466-467). Designers must custom fit their clients and are required to show a minimum number of designs twice a year in a private fashion show (Ibid.). Christian Dior, a name synonymous with the premier world of French haute couture. Born in Granville, France in 1907 (Pochna, 2005, p.3), Dior apprenticed under Lucian Lelong for the first part of his career, before taking control of his ‘personal ambition’ (Dior, 2007, pg.5) and opening his own fashion house under the wing of textile heavyweight Marcel Boussac. Although initially apprehensive about leaving the comfort and security that Lelong offered him, Dior’s rise to fame was meteoric when he showcased his first collection entitled ‘La Ligne Corolle’ (Wilcox, 2009, p.42) in 1947. Carmel Snow, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar magazine in New York (Ibid.) at the time, christened his collection with a name that would be considered one of the most monumental turning points in fashion history – ‘The New Look’. L’express news reported that the French designer was ‘unknown on the 12th of February 1947, famous on the 13th ’ (Wilcox, 2009, p.30). Dior, himself, unexpectedly noticed how the ‘New Look became symbolic of youth and the future’ (Dior, 2007, p.28). Life magazine reported his success (Perkins, 1948, See Appendix A ) and Dior won a Neiman Marcus Oscar award for his 1947 collection. It was not until after Dior’s first showcase that the French began to say ‘on ne parle que Dior’ (Beevor, 2004, p.257) – one can only speak of Dior. Introduction Christian Dior’s ‘Bar’ suit is arguably one of the most iconic models1 1 Model: a design or prototype created by the couturier and his/her atelier for a showcase before the design is sold to clients. of Dior’s 1947 collection (Heilbrun). He revolutionized the women’s suit mainly with the re-introduction of the hourglass silhouette, although also with his use of texture as an element of fashion design that this essay will further investigate. The invention of Picture 1 -- (POCHNA, 2005) Willy Maywald, 1955, René Gruau in Christian Dior’s famous ‘Bar’ suit, Photograph
  6. 6. 6 the women’s suit is accredited to designer John Redfern (Sozzani). However, it did not erupt into popular dress until Coco Chanel introduced her classic suit in 1923 (Basye, 2010), featuring masculine silhouettes, skirts to the knee and boxy jackets inspired by military uniforms of World War I (See Appendix B). Christian Dior’s ‘Bar’ suit, as a result, is considered to be percipient evolution of Coco Chanel’s version of the suit. Couturiers of the era were, in fact, greatly influenced by one another. Christian Dior, himself, mentioned Coco Chanel several times in his autobiography. Dior, however, was vastly aware of the factors that dictated the needs and wants of his clients and women, in general, and the end of the Second World War in 1945 (Barrow, 2010) undeniably affected Dior’s decisions. Christian Dior’s ‘Bar’ suit, therefore, is a reflection of the socio-economic situation of France post- World-War-II. Why then should we analyze the historical developments of fashion? Dior once said ‘since I am widely held responsible for a social trend, I may perhaps be allowed to analyze my own success’ (Dior, 2007, p.27). Fashion is an inescapable tradition and is a result of all the political, cultural, social and economic changes that societies undergo and people experience. It is not only influenced by these changes but also has great impact on what we define culture to be. Karl Lagerfeld once quoted Goethe, saying, ‘make a better future by developing elements from the past’ (Menkes, 2010). An insight into historical developments would thus bring meaning and shine light on the purpose of fashion in ‘present day’ (Riello, McNeil, 2010, p.2-3). Approach ‘The success of a dress depended upon the quality of the workmanship, attention to detail and above all the beauty of the material’ (Dior, 2007, p.14) – Christian Dior To approach this investigation, a detailed analysis into Dior’s ‘Bar’ suit will be drawn before linking it with evidence surrounding the socio-economic situation of France post-World-War-II. The elements of fashion design – silhouette and texture, will be utilized within the analysis.
  7. 7. 7 Silhouette Hourglass, feminine The silhouette of a look is defined to be the overall outline and shape that the worn garments create (Jones, 2011). Christian Dior’s ‘Bar’ suit is known to famously celebrate and exaggerate the hourglass, feminine figure of a woman. The neckline is soft, gentle sloping, adding smoothness to the appearance of the shoulders. The shawl collar2 The waist is narrowed, synched in to (Heilbrun ) contributes sensitively to the curving lines that the garment possesses and at the same time, is deep enough to expose a hint of the collarbone, evoking a hint of sensuality. 2 Shawl collar: a rounded turned-down collar, without lapel notches, that extends down the front of a garment. Picture 2 -- Christian Dior, 1947 copied 1969, Bar Suit, Garment of silk and wool, Editing using Adobe Photoshop Elements, The Metropolitan Museum of art, New York Picture 3 -- Christian Dior, 1947, Close up of the shawl collar of the ‘Bar’ suit, Garment of silk, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  8. 8. 8 create a wasp-like bodice through the use of a multitude of discreet corset3 and several layers of stiffened petticoats4 (Fogg, 2011). The hips and bust are accentuated by Dior’s bold introduction of padding to the bottom half of the jacket. A voluminous crinoline5 Mademoiselle Marguerite, Dior’s directrice technique (head of workrooms), reported that the mannequins (Ibid.) flares open the wide skirt, giving contrasting proportion to the waist and hips. The skirt, itself, shoots down to calf-length (Ibid.) and contains relaxing billowing pleats that provide a balance to the rigidness of the jacket. 6 3 Corset: A tightly fitting undergarment extending from below the chest to the hips, worn to shape the figure 4 Petticoat: A light undergarment hanging from the shoulders or the waist worn under a skirt or dress 5 Crinoline: a stiff fabric made of horsehair and cotton or linen thread, typically used for stiffening petticoats or as a lining. 6 Mannequin: A dummy used to drape fabric during the process of making clothes that Dior’s ateliers used to pin the muslin forms, were veritably manipulated, given a ‘rounded abdomen as on Greek statues’ (Wilcox, 2009, p.39) in order to effectively echo the objective silhouette of the ‘New Look’. Change in the role of women in society post-war ‘My weakness is architecture. I think of my work as ephemeral architecture, dedicated to the beauty of the female body… My prime inspiration is the shape of the female body: for it is the duty of the couturier to adopt the female form as his point of departure and use the materials at his disposal so as to enhance its natural beauty’ – Dior (Dudbridge, 2011). Christian Dior placed considerable importance upon projecting the femininity of women and his use of silhouette is a prominent aspect in doing so. He took inspiration from the organic form of the ‘figure 8’ (Wilcox, 2009, p.39), from the designs of the early couturier Paul Poiret (See Appendix C ) and from the paintings of Giovanni Boldini (See Appendix D ), which contained an abundance of curving lines and soft drapery – fundamentals that exaggerate the female identity. One crucial influence on Dior’s work was the era of the Belle Époque – the beautiful age (Wilde, 2011) – that spawned in the late 1800s, where women wore the designs of Charles Frederick Worth, the man commonly known to be the founding father of haute couture. His garments consisted of extravagant ball gowns laced corsets that restricted the female figure at the unfortunate cost of agonizing pain (See Appendix E and F ). Though Dior did not return to such torturous means of beauty, he appreciated the era for its attempt at re-creating the female form through clothing.
  9. 9. 9 Dior was known to detest the styles of the early 1940s flaunted by the French women known as ‘zazous’ (Dior, 2007, p.4). He felt that skirts were inappropriately short, jackets, too long and considered the style to be ‘repellent’ (Ibid.) The clothing of these ‘zazous’ was often described to be ultra-masculine, rejecting women’s domestic roles during the forces of the occupation and the restraints of the Vichy regime (See Appendix G ). Christian Dior felt that there was a need for fashion to ‘make a temporary return to base… reverting to its true function of clothing women and enhancing their beauty’ (Dior, 2008, p.27-28). He understood that women had a psychological yearning for change after the end of the Second World War, thus he rejected and annulled the boxy aesthetic that prevailed during the wartime period (Mendes, 1999, p.128). The year was 1945 and the world finally sees the end of the Second World War. Almost instantaneously, the explosion of the Baby Boom swept Europe, including France (See Appendix H ). Nearly 40% of families had 3 to 5 children by the end of the 1940s in France (Carson, 1983). Women were prompted to return home, turning away from their roles in the war industry (Mendes, 1999, p.126), invoking the revival of a lifestyle as mothers and wives (Morris, 2012). As a result, Christian Dior’s effeminate silhouette suited the new demographic perfectly, where women longed to move away from the mannish aesthetic as they moved away from the austerity of the war. The silhouette of Dior’s clothing, including the ‘Bar’ suit model, bestowed on women the idea of change and the return of womanhood. Dior’s ‘Bar’ suit, as a result, reflects the change in the role of women in society. Relaxed, non-restrictive Edna Wollman Chase described Dior’s ‘New Look’ to be one of ‘unforced femininity’ and noted that there was ‘no look of heaviness or stricture’ (Wilcox, 2009, p.40) in his clothes. Dior’s ‘Bar’ suit exemplifies the principle because although it contained a myriad underpinnings7 in the form of underwired bustiers8 and girdles9 7 Underpinning: a garment worn underneath clothes to support or strengthen a silhouette 8 Bustier: a close-fitting strapless top worn by women 9 Girdle: a woman’s elasticized corset extending from the waist to thigh , they were astutely made of tulle and horsehair (Wilcox, 2009, p.60), fabrics and material that were soft and were nowhere near as uncomfortable as the predeceasing metal corset of the 1800s. These undergarments, along with Dior’s use of paddings
  10. 10. 10 and pockets at the hips supported the hourglass silhouette without compromising on the ease of movement. Retention of feminist attitudes post-war ‘All women appreciate the average mechanical comfort, which today is tending to replace luxury,’ said Dior (Dior, 2007, p.53). Dior was also known to detest the use of impeding ‘hobble-skirts’ (See Appendix I) of the 1910s, remarking that ‘the figure of the elegant woman was no longer corseted, but gracefully, and cunningly, shackled’ (Dior, 2007, p.15). During World War I and II, women often had to partake in office and factory jobs, while the men were off fighting for the country. In the beginning, there were doubts on whether women should have been able to work and undertake male dominated jobs, but soon, France began to see the scarcity of labor that heavily affected its economy, thus French women stepped up and decided to fill in the abundant amount of vacant vocation positions (Morris, 2012). Women performed jobs from nursing to munitions manufacture, all of which required a revolution in dress (Darrow, 2000, See Appendix J ). Restrictive corsets were seen as a great inhibition to movement, heavy one-piece dresses were unsuitable for travel and women wanted clothes that they could wear flexibly, whether for dining, sport or work (Champsaur, 2004). The innovation of two-piece clothing provided these women with the ability to function and adjust to their newfound roles and responsibilities that stemmed from the change in culture. The popularization women’s suit allowed these women to embrace the functionality of clothing. The end of the Second World War saw the return of some women as housewives, while others continued working and building careers (Morris, 2012). Although the war had ended, the role of women in society and the customs of dress had changed indefinitely. In the early 20th century, married working women were scorned considered atypical. By the end of the century, the abundance of these women who had their own individual careers was perfectly normal (Lambert, 2001). Dior embraced the fact that the new woman of the post-war period still coveted ease and effortlessness of clothing, incorporating that idea into his ‘Bar’ suit by introducing a silhouette that was not only hourglass and feminine, but was also relaxed and non- restrictive.
  11. 11. 11 Longer hemlines One of the most controversial aspects of Dior’s ‘New Look’ was his re- introduction of the longer hemline. In Dior’s ‘Bar’ suit, the skirt featured shot down to mid-calf length (Fogg, 2011) and was about 85 centimeters long and took up an excessive amount of fabric. It was voluptuous, in an A-line shape (Sunni, 2011), achieved through the use of deep knife pleats, gathering10 and paneling11 Dior’s re-introduction of the longer hemline did not come without reason. His lavish use of fabric was a rebellion against the prohibitions of World War II (Monet, 2012). It was a voice of defiance against the abundance of clothes and fabric rations (Callan, 1998) during a time when wool was supplied to the military for the manufacture of uniforms, and when silk was exploited on parachutes, maps and gunpowder bags (Mendes, 1999, p.104). Civilians were coerced into wearing clothing (Callan, 1998) on fabric cut in a circular pattern (V&A, 2008). The waist was fitted but the bottom was flared adding drama to the silhouette of the ensemble, but still allowing for the freedom and dynamism of movement of the legs. According to Dior, the use of these ‘long skirts emphasized waists’ (Dior, 2007, p.143). He was inspired by the aesthetic of the ‘corolla’ (Ibid.) flower, and the way its petals were spread out to create a fan-like silhouette. The length of the skirt provided a mysterious quality to the leg, while allowing for the beauty of movement. ‘Totting on high heels, women rediscovered a sort of dancing step, a gliding walk’ (Ibid.), said Dior. The end of restrictions post-war 10 Gathering: drawing and holding together (fabric or a part of a garment) by running thread through it 11 Paneling: Sewing vertical sections of fabric known as gores Picture 4 -- Christian Dior, 1947, Close up of the ‘Bar’ suit skirt, Garment of wool, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  12. 12. 12 made out of viscose and rayon, and any excessive use of fabric was ubiquitously illegal (Veillon, 2002). Ration lines and ration cards were introduced (See Appendix K ) in 1941 (Wilcox, 2009, p.32) and in 1942, the Making of Civilian Clothing Restriction Order was passed, which stated that ‘a dress could have no more than two pockets or four knife pleats and 160 inches of stitching… no superfluous decoration was allowed’ (Mendes, 1999, p.112). The improvidence of couture was bound by the deficit of supplies such as thread, pins, scissors and needles. Even couture clients were issued rationed cards, while couture houses were ordered to create clothing within strict regulation (Wilcox, 2009, p.35). Dior realized that ‘Europe was tired of dropping bombs and now only wanted to let off fireworks’ (Dior, 2007, p.36). After the end of World War II, designers were liberated, and given the ‘absolute free hand to design as (they) pleased’ (Dior, 2007, p.22), resulting in the use of copious amounts of sumptuous fabrics. Although some suggest that Christian Dior’s benefactor, Monsieur Boussac, influenced Dior’s extravagant designs in order to stimulate textile sales (Wilcox, 2009, p.39), Dior denied the allegation and confronted the skeptics by mentioning how Boussac only dealt with cotton (Beevor, 2004, p.257), not wool or silk. The longer hemlines featured in Dior’s ‘Bar’ suit and the other garments in his 1947 collection brought a tumultuous amount of controversy to the couture scene. It was reported by Paris Match that the shop assistants from the Quatre Saisons were furious and attacked women in these dresses (Palmer, 2009). Anyone from housewives to models to streetwalkers were assaulted (See Appendix L) by citizens who continued to believe in the rationing philosophy of the wartime distress – that these things were wasteful and a complete embodiment of squandering. Although there were many cynics of Dior’s designs in France as well as other countries such as the United States, his use of longer hemlines in the design of the ‘Bar’ suit silhouette eventually came into favor of the couture industry and is a fearless reflection of the end of wartime restrictions.
  13. 13. 13 Luxurious silk, cambric and taffeta Texture Texture, in fashion, is defined to be the fabric or material that a garment is made of and the effect in which its surface creates (Jones, 2011). According to Dior, ‘of the two (color and texture), the latter is more likely to captivate me.’ (Dior, 2007, p.72) He elects certain materials primarily because of how the texture ‘adapts to the effect (he) wants to achieve’ (Ibid.). The ‘Bar’ suit jacket was constructed of 3.7 meters (V&A, 2008) of silk shantung (Wilcox, 2009) – a fabric that was lustrous, brilliant and screamed opulence and splendor. Silk Shantung is thick enough to be worn during cold weather, which was why it was so popular in the colder countries of Europe (Tatum, 2003). It is heavy enough weigh down the drapes of the A-line skirts, yet soft enough to create a sheer, un-creasing texture (Ibid.). ‘A number of factors have to be taken into consideration; the suppleness or the ‘body’ of the stuff, the weight or the thickness. The material is stretched out straight and on the cross12 ; it is weighed, stroked – for it must not scratched the skin…’ – Dior (Dior, 2007, p.71). Dior appreciated the softness and lurid appearance of the fabric, even testing how fabrics fell on the shoulder of the mannequin by constructing several toiles13 12 On the cross: cut on the bias of a fabric or garment, obliquely or diagonally across the grain. 13 Toile: an early version of a finished garment made up in cheap material so that the design can be tested and perfected. before making a decision (Dior, 2007, p.73). He perceptively lined the jacket with cambric and taffeta (Dior, 2007, p.23) – materials that stiffened, firmed and reinforced the structure of the garment (Wilcox, 2009, p.60) without compromising on the luminous surface of the silk shantung. Picture 5 -- V&A Publications, Detail of the Bar suit, Photograph, Viewed 20/05/12
  14. 14. 14 End of protectionist policies that restrict the importing of material According to Dior, fabrics of high quality were particularly in short supply during the war. ‘Silk fabrics where the yarn itself and not the woven14 material had been dyed… with any body to it’ was extremely problematic to discover, as more affordable fabrics such as crêpe romain15 , georgette16 , muslin17 and jersey18 dominated the textile markets (Dior, 2007, p.24). Harsh tariff19 Dior’s use of opulent fabric also reflects the change in social divisions. Previously, because of the effects of the great depression in the 1930s in France, women of both social strata started wearing the same time of clothing (Chhaya, 2005). During World War II, it was proposed by the German occupiers that the Parisian levels had dampened international trade between France and the rest of the world, and the textile and dress industry was undoubtedly impacted. Couturiers had to source for materials within national reach, which limited the availability of more luxurious materials. After the end of the war, the GATT (General Agreement on Trades and Tariffs) establishment was introduced in 1947 (Ibid.), liberating several countries, including France, from trade barriers. Couturiers, such as Dior could not deal with a number of merchants from outside the country, seeing an increase in the diversity of rich fabrics within reach. ‘For it is when (the materials) arrive to see me – the silk merchants, the wool merchants, the lace-makers, men of consequence imbued with strong traditions, who come from all over the world, from Paris, London, Lyons, Milan, and Zürich, bringing with them the wealth of the Low Countries and the richness of the Orient… It is like receiving an embassy… like gifts being brought from far-off countries by Eastern potentates’ – Dior (Dior, 2007, p.71). The texture of Dior’s ‘Bar’ suit, featuring silk shantung along with Cambric and Taffeta, thus expresses the end of protectionist policies that hampered the possibility of their existence in French Couture. Widened gap between the upper class and middle class 14 Woven: a fabric technique made by interlacing long threads passing in one direction with others at a right angle to them 15 Crêpe romain: airy, mid-weight woolen fabric, grainy to the touch and produced from fine single, sharp-twisted crepe yarn in Panama weave 16 Georgette: a sheer, lightweight, dull-finished crêpe fabric made of rayon or blends 17 Muslin: a loosely-woven cotton fabric 18 Jersey: a soft, fine knitted fabric that is often stretchy and made of wool and cotton 19 Tariff: a tax or duty to be paid on a particular class of imports or exports
  15. 15. 15 couture business should be moved to the German capital of Berlin (Mendes, 1999, p.106). Instead, through the protest of Lucian Lelong, head of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture at the time (Beevor, 2004, p.250-251), it was agreed that the industry would remain in Paris, but was ordered to attend to a specific Franco-German clientele that was consented by the Nazi. These clients were consisted of very wealthy French women or the wives and mistresses of the German occupiers (Mendes, 1999, p.106), resulting in a widened psychological distance between the middle and upper social strata in the course of World War II. Post-war, this social gap prevailed, and Dior targeted the upper class market specifically, saying that he was ‘aiming principally at an established clientele of experienced buyers and habitually elegant women.’ (Dior, 2007, p.28) Dior’s copious use of costly fabrics led to skyrocketed prices, evidently in his ‘Bar’ suit model, which was priced at 59,000 francs (V&A, 2008). Dior himself, made sure that the prices of his garments were quantitatively representative of the caliber of his work, completing detailed dossiers20 for each model, stating the ‘hours of work, cost done by hand, taxes and the necessary amount of profit’ (Dior, 2007, p.99). The extravagant cost of his textiles and price of the ‘Bar’ suit thus represents the widened gap between the upper and middle class in France. 20 Dossier: A detailed document containing information on garment specifics, so that fabrics can be ordered from particular sources when models are bought by clients Picture 6 -- V&A Publications, Dossier of the Bar suit, Photograph, Viewed 20/05/12
  16. 16. 16 Conclusion In conclusion, based on the evidence provided it seems likely that Christian Dior’s ‘Bar’ suit is a reflection of the socio-economic situation of France post- World-War-II. In particular, the two elements, silhouette and texture, play critical part in this indication. The silhouette of the ‘Bar’ model, being hourglass, evokes femininity that in turn demonstrates the change in the role of women in society post-war into more domestic circumstances. Despite being hourglass, the silhouette is also relaxed and non-restrictive, representing the retention of feminist attitudes caused by the role of women during the war itself. Particularly, the shift of women’s roles in society towards emancipation and the growing popularity of the lifestyle of the workingwoman is reflected in this principle. Thirdly, Dior’s use of longer hemlines gives the suit a silhouette of extravagance and voluptuousness, reflecting the end of economic restrictions post-war. In terms of texture, Dior’s use of silk shantung, cambric and taffeta in the model ‘Bar’, exhibits his luxurious aesthetic, which in turn, reflects the end of protectionist policies that restrict the importation of material, as well as the widened gap between the upper-class and middle-class clientele in French society. Limitations This investigation centers on silhouette and texture as indicators of the socio- economic situation, as opposed to other elements such as color. This is because Dior focused much of his attention on the fabrics and the silhouettes whilst designing his models. ‘I have no wish to deprive fashion of the added allure and charm of color, but I could perfectly well design a whole complete collection simply in black or white and express all my ideas to my complete satisfaction.’ – Dior (Dior, 2007, p.70-71). This essay also concentrates on the socio-economic factors present in France as opposed to other countries. Further investigation into Dior’s other designs for clients from other countries can be done as a future endeavor.
  17. 17. 17 Appendix A) PERKINS, J., 1948. Dior. Life Magazine.
  18. 18. 18 B) (BASYE, 2010) 1923, Chanel shows a suit. Nothing to see here, Photograph, Viewed 24/04/12 <http://onthisdayinfashion.com/?p=3819> C) Paul Poiret, 1913, Ensemble, Garment of ivory silk damask, ivory silk net, and ivory China silk with rhinestone trim; ivory silk net with green and black silk gauze, applied tape and rhinestone trim; green and black silk gauze headdress with strands of rhinestones; ivory silk damask shoes, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Viewed 21/05/12 <http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/2005.193a-g>
  19. 19. 19 D) (Left) Giovanni Boldini, 1896, Portrait de Madame G. Blumenthal, Oil on Canvas, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, Viewed 21/05/12 <http://www.musee- orsay.fr/en/collections/index-of- works/notice.html?no_cache=1&zoom=1&tx_damzoom_pi1%5Bzoom%5D=0&tx_d amzoom_pi1%5BxmlId%5D=078432&tx_damzoom_pi1%5Bback%5D=%2Fen%2F collections%2Findex-of- works%2Fnotice.html%3Fno_cache%3D1%26zsz%3D5%26lnum%3D3> (Right) Giovanni Boldini, 1906, Portrait de Mrs. Howard Johnson, Oil on Canvas, Viewed 21/05/12 <http://www.erasofelegance.com/arts/gallery/boldini/boldini.html>
  20. 20. 20 E) Charles Frederick Worth, 1892, Evening Dress, garment of silk, crystal, metallic threads, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Viewed 29/11/11 <http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/wrth/hd_wrth.htm> F) 1870, Dress from the Belle Époque era, Photograph, Viewed 29/11/11 <http://abigailsateliers.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/the-golden-age-of-the-corset/>
  21. 21. 21 G) Édition Réunies, 1943, The Zazous of the 1940s, Drawings, Paris, Viewed 21/05/12 <http://swingexpress.com/MSS/SSM/historique/zazous.html>
  22. 22. 22 H) (PISON, 2010) Population et sociétés, The Baby Boom I) 1911, The Hobble Skirt, What’s that? It’s the speed-limit skirt!, Postcard, Viewed 20/05/12 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:HobbleSkirtPostcard.jpg>
  23. 23. 23 J) 1916, Le travail des femmes (The work of women), Photographs, Viewed 21/05/12 <http://verdun-1916.chez-alice.fr/frameg/femme1.html>
  24. 24. 24 K) A Ration Line during the War, Photograph, France, Viewed 27/04/12 <http://cbertel.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/france-rationing- lines.jpg?w=529&h=397> L) Les scènes de femmes qui se battent en plein Paris et s’arrachent leurs vêtements (Scenes of women who fight and tear clothes), Photograph, Paris, Viewed 21/05/12 <http://acoeuretacris.centerblog.net/rub-annees-50-.html?ii=1#>
  25. 25. 25 M) (WTO, 1999) World Trade Organization, Average Tariff level and Trade volume index against date of major establishments
  26. 26. 26 BEEVOR, A., COOPER, A., 2004. PARIS After the Liberation 1944—1949 Revised Edition. Penguin Books. Bibliography Books CALLAN, G.O., 1998. The Thames and Hudson dictionary of fashion and fashion designers. Thames & Hudson. DARROW, M.H., 2000. French Women and the First World War: War Stories of the Home Front (Legacy of the Great War). Berg Publishers. DIOR, C., 2007. Dior by Dior, The autobiography of Christian Dior. V&A Publications. FOGG, M., 2011. The Fashion Design Dictionary. Thames & Hudson. JONES, S.J., 2011. Elements and Principles of Fashion Design. Laurence King Publishers. MENDES, V., HAYLE, A. 20th Century Fashion, Thames & Hudson. PALMER, A., 2001. Couture and Commerce: The transatlantic Fashion Trade in the 1950s, Vancouver: UBC Press; Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum PALMER, A., 2009. Dior: a New Look, a New Enterprise (1945-57). V&A Publications. POCHNA, M.F., 2005. Dior. Assouline. RIELLO, G., McNEIL, P., 2010. The Fashion History Reader, Global Perspectives. Routledge. VEILLON, D., 2002. Fashion under the occupation. Berg Publishers. WILCOX, C., 2009. The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947- 1957. V&A Publications. WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION, 1999. General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. World Trade Organization. Articles PERKINS, J., 1948. Dior. Life Magazine. PISON, G., 2010, The Baby Boom, Population et sociétés, Graph, Viewed 27/04/12 <http://www.ined.fr/fichier/t_publication/1498/publi_pdf2_pesa463.pdf> Internet BASYE, A., 2010. Chanel shows a suit. Nothing to see here. Viewed 24/04/12 <http://onthisdayinfashion.com/?p=3819> BARROW, M., 2010. When did World War II end? Viewed 29/05/11 <http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/homework/war/end.html> CHAMPSAUR, F.B., 2004. French Fashion during the First World War. Viewed 25/04/12 <http://www.thebhc.org/publications/BEHonline/2004/Champsaur.pdf> CHHAYA, P., CRAMPON, H., GAUTHJER, A. and PACHON, L., 2004- 2005. La Haute Couture entre les deux guerres. (Haute couture between the two wars). Viewed 26/04/12 <http://gely.info/wp/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/mode.pdf> DUDBRIDGE, S., 1950s – 1960s History of fashion. Viewed 29/11/11 <http://www.catwalkyourself.com/page/history_of_fashion/1950/>
  27. 27. 27 HEILBRUN Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Viewed 23/11/11 <http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/C.I.58.34.30_C.I.69.40> LAMBERT, T., 2001. 20th Century women. Viewed 18/05/12 <http://www.localhistories.org/women20th.html> MONET, D., 2009-12. The Impacts of World War II on Fashion. Viewed 27/04/12 <http://doloresmonet.hubpages.com/hub/Fashion-History-Design- Trends-of-the-1040s> MENKES, S., 2010. Heritage Luxury: Past Becomes the Future. Viewed 21/11/11 <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/09/fashion/09iht- rsuzy.html?pagewanted=all> SOZZANI, F., Woman’s suit. Viewed 22/11/11 <http://www.vogue.it/en/encyclo/fashion/t/woman-s-suit> SUNNI, 2011. A modern history of the A-line. Viewed 28/11/11 <http://www.afashionablestitch.com/2011/sewalongs/a-modern-history-of-the- a-line/> TATUM, M., 2003. What is Shantung? Viewed 30/11/11 <http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-shantung.htm> V&A, 2008. The Golden Age of Couture Paris and London 1947 to 1957. Viewed 19/05/12 <http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/microsites/1486_couture/exhibHighBarSuit1. php> WILDE, R. Belle Époque era (“the beautiful age”). Viewed 29/11/11 <http://europeanhistory.about.com/od/france/a/belleepoque.htm> Pictures 1. See under ‘books’ (POCHNA, 2005) 2. Christian Dior, 1947 copied 1969, Bar Suit, Garment of silk and wool, Editing using Adobe Photoshop Elements, The Metropolitan Museum of art, New York, Viewed 28/11/11 <http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/search-the- collections/80004761?img=0> 3. Christian Dior, 1947, Close up of the shawl collar of the ‘Bar’ suit, Garment of silk, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Viewed 21/05/12 <http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/search-the- collections/80002618?img=3> 4. Christian Dior, 1947, Close up of the ‘Bar’ suit skirt, Garment of wool, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Viewed 21/05/12 <http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/search-the- collections/80004761?img=4> 5. V&A Publications, Detail of the Bar suit, Photograph, Viewed 20/05/12 <http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/microsites/1486_couture/exhibHighBarSuit3. php> 6. V&A Publications, Dossier of the Bar suit, Photograph, Viewed 20/05/12 <http://www.vam.ac.uk/vastatic/microsites/1486_couture/exhibHighBarSuit2. php> Interviews MORRIS, B., (2012, May 2). Personal interview.

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