1950's hourglass chic feted at Paris fashion museum

Fri Jul 11, 2014 11:41am EDT
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By Alexandria Sage

PARIS (Reuters) - When Christian Dior introduced his debut haute couture collection in February 1947, the meters of fabric spilling over the models' hips in swirls of fine wool, silk and tulle were nothing short of a fashion revolution.

His emblematic creations ushered in "the most luxurious and radiant" decade in women's fashion, according to Olivier Saillard, director of the Palais Galliera fashion museum, which presents "The 50s - Fashion in France, 1947-1957" beginning on Saturday in Paris.

Drawing on the museum's extensive archive of garments and accessories, the exposition stars not only Dior but also such greats as Balenciaga, Pierre Balmain and Hubert de Givenchy. Along with them are less familiar though no less important names like Jacques Fath and Jacques Heim.

"This was haute couture's golden age, when Paris regained its title of world fashion capital," said Saillard, who on Wednesday night - during haute couture fashion week in Paris - gathered the couturiers of today for a gala dinner and advance peek at the show.

Dresses for cocktail hours, balls, lazy summer afternoons - even gloves, hats, brassieres and swimsuits - all make an elegant appearance under the ornate ceiling of the Palais Galliera, a 19th century mansion originally built to house the art collection of a duchess but which since 1977 has been the city's fashion museum.

Reams of fabric and expert structure are visible in Dior's white and black day suit that opens the show, in which interior boning and padding create the corseted and shapely silhouette.

An exquisite Carven day suit in beige wool features a bodice of horsehair braiding that emphasizes the cinched look.

Delightful are the full embroidered wool felt skirts in electric fuchsia, blue and purple by the Boutique of Jeanne Lanvin-Castillo - a chic precursor to the poodle skirt of 1950s Americana.   Continued...

A visitor looks at vintage dresses by designers Christian Dior, Jacques Heim and Givenchy presented in the exhibition "Les Annees 50, La mode en France" (The 50s. Fashion in France, 1947-1957) at the Palais Galliera  fashion museum in Paris, July 10, 2014. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier