When Christian Dior introduced his New Look in 1947, it was not the product of decades in the trenches as a fashion designer. Rather, Dior’s famous postwar collection marked his professional debut.

Which is not to say that the collection was purely a case of beginner’s luck. Dior had been in the Paris fashion world for years, including productive stints as assistants to Robert Piguet and Lucien Lélong. By the time he opened his own couture house in 1946, he was already 41 years old.

Dior called his first collection Corolle, which was French for flower petals. Indeed, compared to the boxy, utilitarian, World War II fashions that had dominated the 1940s, Dior’s collection was a bouquet of bounty, with yards upon yards of fabric lavished on just one dress. The fashion press was smitten, with “Harper’s Bazaar” being the first to call it the New Look.

In fact, there was much that was not new at all about Dior’s breakthrough. Some have detected 1860s French influences, while Dior himself said that the collection reminded him of the clothes his mother had worn to the races when he was a young boy.

Though the fashion press fawned over Dior (“Vogue” covered him obsessively until his death in 1957), many Europeans were shocked by the excessive use of material at a time when fabric was still being rationed. Others resented the ornamentation of women—fellow Parisian Coco Chanel dismissed Dior’s look as the equivalent of dressing women up like armchairs.

Perhaps in deference to his critics, Dior’s subsequent collections were more pared down. For example, his A-line dresses, whose silhouette resembled the letter A, were signatures of the casual, unfussy 1950s.

After Dior’s death, Yves Saint Laurent, who had been a design assistant with the firm, was named chief designer, even though he was only 21. Within two years Marc Bohan had replaced Saint Laurent, and he stayed at that post for 28 years, longer than Dior himself had been at the helm of his own company...

Italian designer Gianfranco Ferre followed Bohan, but the next designer to make his mark on Dior was a Brit, John Galliano, who arrived at Dior in 1996. Many critics believe Galliano has best understood Dior’s unique aesthetic.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

MyVintageVogue

MyVintageVogue

The history of 20th-century women’s fashion largely played out in the pages of magazines such as “Harper’s Ba… [read review or visit site]

Fashion Columbia Study Collection

Fashion Columbia Study Collection

The Fashion Columbia Study Collection (FCSC) is the digital home of the Columbia College Chicago’s fashion archiv… [read review or visit site]

1960s Fashion and Textiles

1960s Fashion and Textiles

Put on your go-go boots and check out this wavy, groovy tribute to 1960s fashion and textiles, courtesy of the Vict… [read review or visit site]

Vintage Fashion Guild

Vintage Fashion Guild

The VFG is a non-profit international educational organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of vinta… [read review or visit site]

Fashion-Era

Fashion-Era

Bursting at the seams with content, this site contains hundreds of pages of fashion and costume history, including … [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Christian Dior Boutique Black Leather Single Button Jacket Size Us 6Christian Dior ~ Rare Mink Fur Coat!!!!Christian Dior Skirt Size 8, 10Christian Dior Boutique Black Mesh Overlay Pleated Midi Skirt Size Us 6Christian Dior Boutique Black Silk Lace Trim Slip Dress Size Us 8Christian Dior Boutique Black Knit Sleeveless Maxi Dress Size Us 10Christian Dior Tank Top Christian Dior, Women's Blue Blazer, Uk 12 Bnwt - Rrp £1,200Vintage Dior Cardigan Rhinestone Crystal Buttons Wool Silk Cashmere Cream SChristian Dior Black Silky Drape Detail Top F38 (uk10)Christian Dior Boutique Black Silk Zipper Trim TankVtg Christian Dior Lingerie Women's Silky Long Lingerie Slip Robe Nightie SmallSexy Black Christain Dior Slip Night Gown Lace Accents Sz MVintage Christian Dior Nighty Negligee Bows Lace Accent Size Large Cream Silky Christian Dior Beige Satin Sexy Ivory Fancy Lace Snap Crotch Teddy Romper Slip LChristian Dior Black Lace Front Closure Underwire Bra 36d Euc #0609024 Size 36b Bra Lot Lily Of France Christian Dior 101469 105496 Unlined UnderwireVintage Christian Dior Intimates 100% Silk Lace String Bikini Pink Panties Sz SVintage Christian Dior Intimates Womens Camisole Lace Trim Size LPantyhose Large Full Figure Queen Size Lot New Dior Deep Purple TopChristian Dior Vtg Robe Lingerie Pink Quilted Full Length Nightgown PetiteVintage Nightgown Christian Dior Bridal Lingerie Peach Satin Lace Union MadeChristian Dior Womens Jeans,blue, W26/27, L29Christian Dior Blouse Womens Size 6 Petite 100% Silk Career Burgundy BlackVintage Christian Dior Career Wool Skirt Size 8 Houndstooth Vintage Christian Dior Bustier LingerieDior Womens Casual Cargo Trousers Uk6 Indie Boho Summer Hipster HippieChristian Dior Pink TightsVintage Floral Christian Dior Sweater Flawed Small Hole Women's Medium Angora