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Christian Dior’s extravagantly feminine New Look came  after the World War II, not everyone accepted it. After years of military and civilian uniforms, sartorial restrictions and shortages, Dior offered a new look.

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The actual phrase the “New Look” was coined by the powerful editor-in-chief of Harpers Bazaar, Carmel Snow. After the war women, who had been in uniform or wore the boxy shapes of the 1940s, responded to the classic elegance and femininity of the Dior line of clothing. The style was not completely new but was in fact reminiscent of the Belle epoque style, which Dior’s mother had worn in the early 1900s, and which featured long skirts, tiny waists, and beautiful fabrics. Dior’s dresses were lined predominantly with percale; they had bustier-style bodices, hip padding, wasp-waisted corsets and petticoats that made them flare out from the waist giving his models an hourglass shape. The “New Look” revolutionized women’s dress and re-established war-ravaged Paris, as the center of the fashion world.

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The full pleated calf-length skirt, of black wool, is a replica of the original skirt of the suit. Marc Bohan ordered it made up in the Dior workroom to complete the suit for The Costume Institute Collections.

After Christian Dior himself, creative directors are of the house are Yves Saint Laurent 1957–1960, Marc Bohan 1960–1989, Gianfranco Ferré 1989–1997, John Galliano 1997–2011, Bill Gaytten 2011–2012 and Raf Simons 2012–2015.

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After three and a half years as creative director at Christian Dior, Raf Simons has announced he’s exiting the house.  Simons released a statement to WWD:

It is after careful and long consideration that I have decided to leave my position as creative director of Christian Dior’s women’s collection. It is a decision based entirely and equally on my desire to focus on other interests in my life, including my own brand, and the passions that drive me outside my work. Christian Dior is an extraordinary company, and it has been an immense privilege to write a few pages of this magnificent book. I want to thank Mr. Bernard Arnault for the trust he has put in me, giving me the incredible opportunity to work at this beautiful house surrounded by the most amazing team one could ever dream of. I have also had the chance over the last few years to benefit from the leadership of Sidney Toledano. His thoughtful, heartfelt and inspired management will also remain as one of the most important experiences of my professional career.

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Who will succeed him at Dior? Lots of names will surface. One is Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci. His show in New York in September, attended by top LVMH executives, seemed a platform for a major career move. But is his dark, religion-infused aesthetic right for pretty Dior? And can Toledano strike a rapport with Tisci, as he did so easily with Simons? Another possibility is Phoebe Philo of Céline. Her women-friendly clothes cause a buzz, and she’s a master of accessories, but while it would be fascinating to see a woman at Dior, the London-based Philo may resist the idea of spending more time in Paris — and being responsible for many more shows than she now is at Céline.

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Photos Courtesy of Christian Dior, LIFE Magazine, REX

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