The 1950s was an exciting time for many, the war was over and the economy began to flourish once more. Men were back home and ready to work and women were back to doing their womanly duties again (cooking and cleaning) this reflected the social position of the women following the war. The 1950s was all about family and being home and the clothing changed because of it. Women were back at home no longer needing to work and wearing clothing that would prevent them from doing anything but womanly tasks. Society was putting women back “were they belonged,” with the males back in town and working.
Also the distinction of clothing and class was being brought back to the table after being forgotten for the wartime periods. Women were excited about dressing up again; with the help of designer Christian Dior his famous “new look” emerging in 1947 started the new wave for dress aesthetics in the 1950s and the feminine form. Women spent their existence catering to their men. Females in the 1950s were there to attend social gatherings and parties; they were constantly trying to further their husband’s career and make them look better. Economic Climate
The economy in the 1950s experienced one of the biggest economic booms in US history. This made life at that time an exciting time to be alive; this began the rise of consumerism. During World War II and the 1940s, fashion was a time of rationing. Fashion at the time was influenced by the limited resources that were available. The economic boom in the 1950s ended the time of rationing and a large amount of new materials such as nylon, wool, and leather became available. Another reason why consumerism was rising was the return of men coming back from the war.
Department stores and catalogues advertised fashion that was focused on women. They advertised clothing that women should wear in order to find a husband or impress their husband coming back from the war. During the 1950s the standard of living steadily rose and both unemployment and inflation remained low. Since more people had more income, travel became more affordable encouraging worldwide ethnic influences on fashion. Some examples would be Hawaiian textiles which were popular for summer wear and Asian brocades for formal wear.
Another result of the economic boom was the rise of teenage culture. Teens in the mid-1950s started to receive disposable income from parents and parttime jobs and started to have more free time which meant more shopping. In the mid-1950s catalogues and departments were concentrated on young adults. One of the big things that were focused on was the formal market. High school dances and prom became a huge part of the decade and was one of the fundamental parts of being a teen. People finally had money again which made fashion flourish during this time; people had money to entertain again.
Prominent Designers Christian Dior was a French fashion designer and a dominate force in fashion in the 50s; he created “the new look. ” This look was the dominant style in Christian’s works it included rounded shoulders, a cinched waist, curved hipline, full skirt with a hemline almost 6 inches longer than the prevailing styles all of which were the features of Dior at the time. This was a radical change from the styles of the previous decade. His designs and alteration of the feminine form brought glamour to the fashions of the 1950s.
Chanel, a French designer, was creating similar clothing to what she had been designing in the 20s. Her designs were simplistic and put together, the quality of Chanel’s clothes had a big reputation. Her designs were decorated by jewelry during the daytime and did not have any decoration at night. Chanel went in the opposite direction of Christian Dior and didn’t follow the new trend of adding excessive fabric, she kept things simple. This just expresses the contrast fashion had in the 50s; it wasn’t all about “the new look. Cristobal Balenciaga was also very prominent in the 1950s.
His knowledge of technique and construction made his designs original and special. He was an expert tailor. Cristobal used bold materials, created heavy clothes and used ornate embroidery. One of his famous pieces is the Infanta Gown. Cristobal was getting a lot of inspiration from history. He used volume in clothes and used all shapes and sizes. Depending on the model, he was changing the place of the waistline and making women look beautiful in his clothes.
Another famous piece created by Cristobal is an Evening dress inspired by a Spanish Flamenco dress; this refers to his Spanish origin. He was referred to as a “the master of us all” by Christian Dior and “the only couturier in the truest sense of the word” by Coco Chanel. He had a profound impact on European fashion and on the day of his death in 1972, Women’s Wear Daily ran the headline “The king is dead”. Hubert de Givenchy is a French fashion designer who founded The House of Givenchy in 1952.
He had a classical, refined style. He is famous for his collaboration with an amazing actress of the time Audrey Hepburn. He created the black dress in the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” as well as many other dresses worn by Hepburn in the movies she starred in at that time. Charles James was a Britishborn fashion designer known as “America’s First Couturier”. He brought sculpting fabric into inventive fashion. He elaborated ball gowns in odd mixture of colors and fabrics. He is knows as an architect or sculptor is his designs.
Although his fashions were loved, he was a horrible businessperson and did not succeed to earn a lot of money with his designs. He also did not have his ready-to wear line. During the war, people could not allow themselves to wear anything but a simple outfit using as little of fabrics, threads and needles. Once, the next decade came the fashion flourished and “The New Look” became the hit. All the designers of that period were creating outstanding clothes with a lot of fabric which was highly appreciated by the people who wanted to appreciate the difference in life quality after the war.