In 1947, fashion designer Christian Dior opened his couture fashion house in Paris and unleashed his “New Look” designs on a female populace tired of wartime deprivations. The style paired highly structured, form-fitting tops with very full skirts, emphasizing a curvaceous feminine figure.
The “New Look” provoked both acclaim and scorn in the world of fashion, but despite mixed reviews it proved hugely influential, re-defining the mode in women’s fashion and reestablishing Paris as the couture capitol of the world.
The Golden Age of Couture details the world of high fashion in the decade after the Second World War. It reveals the role that fashion played both socially and economically in Paris and London and spotlights several well known designers of the period, including Dior, Cristobal Balenciaga, Pierre Balmain, Hubert de Givenchy, Jacques Fath, and Yves Saint Laurent.
The text is scholarly and interesting with intriguing little details. One paragraph on wedding gowns reveals, “It was a couture workshop tradition to leave a blue bow, a pin, a silver coin and a spot of blood from a virgin in the workroom inside a wedding dress.” And for those who think fashion is just fluff and vanity, the book reveals that for France, haute couture “…was also an important business that, before the Second World War, accounted for over 300 million francs in French exports.”
Of course, as befits a fashion book, the photography is beautiful, with many pictures of the gorgeous suits and dresses. Assembled and written by staff members of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, The Golden Age of Couture is an enjoyable read for fashion fans.
Check the WRL catalog for The Golden Age of Couture.