Two years after the end of the Second World War, a little
known fashion designer called Christian Dior was ready to surprise a female clientele, used to rationing and fabric shortage, with a 90-model collection that contradicted every inch of the wartime logic of economy and sensibility. An hourglass-shaped silhouette with a tiny waist, rounded forms, accentuated (sexy) busts, longer dresses/skirts, more fabric volume and matching accessories were the ingredients of the “New Look”, as the design of Dior’s first collection came to be known. His inspiration had been flowers and the curved silhouette of the long, tightly-fitting dresses of the 19th century. His desire: to make women happy. – More about the “New Look” collection can be read here.
It took, however, some time for a number of thrift-oriented females to take to this new fashion – they were too shocked. Not Camel Snow, editor-in-chief of the American fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar. Her enthusiasm grew with every model presented during Dior’s first fashion show. Back home, she and her colleague of Vogue, 70-year old Edna Woolman Chase, prepared each an autumn edition of their respective magazines that should convince their female readers that loosely fitting short dresses conveying an air of athletic elegance were out. Instead, the hourglass figure – aided by extra padding if desired – and the aura of femininity it eradiated were the “real thing”. Coming as it did from U.S.’s leading fashion magazines, this message easily persuaded other fashion houses to follow suit.
Source: Time Capsule 1947: The Year in Review. 1997, p.45.
It had not the same effect on a Dallas woman called Mrs Woodward (24), mother of two, who founded the ‘Little Below the Knee’ Club (L.B.K.). As membership rapidly grew nationwide, she organised an L.B.K.-parade down the main street of Dallas, which managed to stop the traffic for one hour and get the message across: “SHORT SKIRTS, SAVE DOLLARS, SAVE EYESTRAIN”. A similar tale came from California, where young wives had founded the Women’s Organization to War on Style (W.O.W.S). Members would dress in bathing suits and picket a dress shop with placards saying: “WE HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE” or “DO WE NEED PADDING?”. To no avail – Dior not only won this war on the new style – he also made the conquered happy.
Source: Time Capsule 1947: The Year in Review. 1997, p.44.