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Alanna Martine Kilkeary / Her Campus
Style > Fashion

The ‘New Look’ That Captivated the World: How Christian Dior’s Designs Sparked a Fashion Renaissance

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at NCSU chapter.

In the glittering landscape of post-war Paris, where the echoes of conflict fade into the background and the promise of a new era shimmers on the horizon, two titans of fashion stand poised to reshape the world’s stylish landscape. Enter the mesmerizing world of “The New Look,” a captivating Apple TV series that unravels the enigmatic history of Christian Dior and Coco Chanel, two luminaries whose creations transcended mere clothing to embody the essence of an era. Their stories, full of intrigue and ambition, offer a compelling narrative of artistry, innovation, and an iconic legacy.

Inside The New Look by Thenewlooktv

A star-studded ensemble features Ben Mendelsohn, exuding Christian Dior’s imaginative flair and Juliette Binoche’s charm and complexity as she navigates Coco Chanel’s return to fashion. While Glenn Close commands attention as influential Harper’s Bazaar editor Carmel Snow, whose ingenuity coined the term “new look” for Dior’s ground-breaking collection, Maisie Williams lights up the screen as the courageous sister Catherine of Dior. The role of Lucien Lelong, the couturier who developed talents such as Dior and Balmain, is played by John Malkovich, who adds complexity and intrigue to fashion’s revival. These gifted performers bring to life the enthralling drama and inspirational history of fashion’s iconic designers.

Fashion’s Revolutionaries

This magnificent 10-part series, created by the maestro Todd A. Kessler, known for his work on the Sopranos, transports viewers to 1940’s Paris, a city still haunted by the memories of Nazi rule. Dior’s covert actions to support the French Resistance and Chanel’s perilous relationship with a German intelligence agent set the stage for a story that transcends style and emphasizes the reality designers and fashion houses faced. With screams of “Dior! Dior! Dior!” resonating throughout the Sorbonne’s Le Grand Amphithéâtre in 1955, the show opens with Christian taking center stage, delivering his first lecture discussing the aesthetics of fashion and its significance in post-war reconstruction. Dior and Chanel’s influence continues to resonate in the fashion industry today, inspiring designers and influencing trends. Dior introduced the idea of “haute couture,” which is now the height of high fashion, while Chanel’s classic designs have influenced women’s fashion trends worldwide. Dior and Chanel changed the fashion industry and our perception of femininity, grace, and beauty with their avant-garde designs. Edna Woolman Chase, editor of Vogue during the period, wrote in her memoir, that Dior’s “clothes, while wearable, gave women the feeling of being charming costumed; there was a fairly romantic flavor about them.”

Christian Dior’s New Look By rachel.elspeth.gross

A Captivating Journey through Time

Embark on a dazzling journey through time and view reconstructed pieces featured in the show, sketches, fabric samples, period photographs, and extensive treasures preserved by Dior Héritage at La Galerie Dior now through May 13th.  Set against the backdrop of The Sacred Grove painted by Pierre Cécile Puvis de Chavannes, the exhibition features a designated room to display a mesmerizing array of silhouettes from “The New Look.” Leading the procession is the iconic Bar ensemble, a timeless symbol of the New Look from the Spring/Summer of 1947. Additional treasures from the collection include the “Chérie” dinner dress and elegantly reconstructed forms ode to the brilliant artistry of costume designer Karen Muller Serreau and the enduring legacy of Christian Dior’s vision.

“New Look” Exhibit by Dior

Revival of Parisian Couture: The Théâtre de la Mode

The Parisian fashion industry faced a critical period of rebirth following the city’s liberation from Nazi occupation in 1944. The proprietor of a renowned couture house, Lucien Lelong, understood the value of restoring Parisian couture and making it accessible to audiences. As a result, 40 couturiers, including Schiaparelli, Paquin, Jean Patou, Hermès, Madame Grès, Nina Ricci, and Lelong himself, created the “Théâtre de la Mode,” a traveling show that included dolls adorned in elaborate patterns. These dolls demonstrated the ingenuity and tenacity of Parisian couturiers, who became symbols of post-war French fashion. Christian Dior was one designer on display, and his contribution to the show alluded to his future influence on the fashion world with his iconic Bar Suit, which would redefine women’s fashion in years to come.

Théâtre de la Mode by billgreening

Christian Dior’s Vision of Elegance

Throughout the world, women were enthralled with Dior’s designs because of their romantic and opulent aura, which celebrated femininity with voluminous skirts, delicate structures, and enchanting fabrics. Most of Dior’s entourage, essential to operate his couture house and inspire his collections, were female, and he readily acknowledged that their support was central to his success. Dior’s autobiographical writings and memoirs emphasized his unique bond with the women in his life, characterizing them as an extension of himself. During Dior’s time, this blurring of gender lines was especially uncommon for a fashion designer, indicating his progressive views on gender roles within the business. Every seam, every fabric selection, and every silhouette demonstrated Dior’s passion for women and his conviction that “women are most fascinating when they are clothed in elegance.”

Dior, Designer of Dreams by emilyjaury

An Icon’s Legacy

Christian Dior once said, “Deep in every heart slumbers a dream, and the couturier knows it: every woman is a princess.” His remarks resonate throughout time, reinforcing fashion’s ability to inspire, elevate, and transform. With its extravagant sets and costumes, the show is a visual feast that transports audiences to a time when fashion became more than a means of dress but a display of art. From the bustling streets of Paris to the exclusive ateliers where dreams are stitched into reality, “The New Look” captures the essence of a bygone era with style and sophistication. Regardless of your interest in fashion, history, or a compelling story, “The New Look” is guaranteed to charm, educate, and inspire.

Katy Masden, a summa cum laude graduate of NC State with a degree in Business Marketing. Her academic journey is a fusion of creative extracurricular activities and an insatiable wanderlust spirit, both of which have ignited her aspirations within the field of marketing. Her goal is to collaborate with innovative magazines and fashion companies that share her unwavering enthusiasm for pioneering ideas. As an active member of the American Marketing Association, Katy is eager to connect with industry leaders, recognizing the immense value of networking and shared insights to drive innovation within the marketing and global business landscape. Post-graduation, her ambition is global, with a desire to travel and cultivate diverse ideas into innovative campaigns. She is eager to immerse herself in the dynamic world of creative direction, forging cross-cultural collaborations and pushing the limits of marketing.