Inside Christian Dior's New Look."
On this site, you'll find fascinating insights into the construction of a Dior suit of the era. The biggest thing I took away is that these garments were truly works of engineering. As the author puts it: "If re-created accurately, New Look garments should nearly stand up by themselves; the interlining, linings, interfacings, bonings, and stiffenings Dior used all but supported his garments on their own."
A great example of this is the skirt: I'd always assumed a crinoline was solely responsible for the voluminous skirt. Actually, the construction had a lot to do with it as well. Skirts were interlined with stiffened muslin, and then lined with a crisp silk like taffeta.
It seems that everything in the New Look silhouette was strictly engineered, especially when it came to foundation garments. The New Look brought back the corset in the form of the "waspie," a narrow corset meant to take several inches off the waist. (If you're interested, What Katie Did sells a reproduction of the New Look waspie. I own one, and I'm still getting the hang of wearing it. It's serious business!) But perhaps the undergarment that seems most foreign to our modern ways is the hip pad. These, obviously, further accentuated the hourglass shape.
I personally think the New Look silhouette is striking on its own, without all these feats of inner engineering. I've been on the hunt for New Look type patterns, and the lines of these garments are so beautiful: the soft shoulders, the shawl collars, nipped in waists, peplums, and full skirts. A few lovely examples (the first one is now in my collection!):
So that's where my flights of fancy are these days. I certainly don't have time to make a suit that will stand up on its own! But perhaps I can pull off a modern, casual homage.
What do you think of these looks? They're awfully formal for today, don't you think? But so beautiful!