Thursday, September 5, 2013

Paris Fashion, 1949

Well well, my New Look loving friends... I have a treat for you today.
Careful not to get drool on your keyboard.

April 25, 1949
Paris Fashions
They include short skirts, free-flying panels and burlap

This spring the Paris showings were more crowded than at any time since before the war, with U.S. purchases of the new styles 30% over last season. The clothes themselves are new and more wearable variations on the basic New Look pattern which revolutionized fashion in 1947. King of the showings again was Christian Dior, but the crown prince certainly was fast-rising Jacques Fath, who freely admitted that this year he had already sold 41 million francs worth of custom-made dresses.

A new note was the slim skirt broken by some unusual elements such as a flowing peplum or flying panel. The skirts themselves were higher - some startlingly so. In materials Fath's use of burlap was outstanding; accessories were simple, except for evening, when they were very elaborate. To many an American in Paris the new clothes looked especially good because many models had obviously been designed to complement American looks, and one item in particular - the small, perky hat which turned up in every collection - seemed a direct importation from the U.S.

Narrowest silhouette of the season, on Fath's coat-dress, is broken by blown-back peplum.

High skirted black dinner dress by Dior displays a full 15 inches of leg and is draped at the rear.

Fath's unique burlap, which he used for almost everything including evening dresses, is employed here in a fitted coat.

Big flap pockets, Dior's trademark this year, enliven his otherwise simple gray tweed suit. The shoulders are unpadded.

Flying panels on this grey street dress consist of ten pieces of matching material attached to the waist. When the wearer is still they lie flat but swirl and billow when she moves. Dior calls panels an optical illusion designed to give a slim skirt a wind-blown look.

Silk coat of red shantung has a matching pleated dress beneath it. The big pockets placed high and the new 14-inch skirt mark it as a Dior design. Model is Sylvie Hirsch, 21, who is the most popular in Paris. She has received several offers to model in the U.S. for American dress houses but has always turned them down. 

French-American look was epitomized by Dior's spring dress with a white pique collar, slim slit skirt and draped flying panel. The little white beret us worn on the side of the head. This dress, worn here by Sylvie, was a top favorite with all American visitors and buyers attending this season's showings.

Fashionable Women of Paris
French designers consider them their best advertisement

French couturiers' most effective models are fashionable Parisian women, some of whom are shown in their purchases for the new season. Sometimes wealthy but more often only well-to-do, the Parisian lady achieves her renowned chic less with money than by intense concentration on her clothes. She may have many other interests - acting, sports or music - but she does not hesitate to sit through a collection at least twice before deciding whether to buy and then willingly undergoes four or five fittings.

She actually buys relatively few clothes, perhaps two evening, one cocktail and one street dress per season. Sometimes the couturier at whose establishment she "dress: (Parisiennes tend to patronize one dressmaker as American do one doctor) lends her additional dresses on occasion for advertising value. But one rule is observed with a rigor shocking to most Americans; in the world's most fashion-conscious city she will immediately disregard any dress which does not conform to the latest "look".

Fath's sister-in-law, Mme. Simone Imbert, 24, sings, dances and in the words of her friends, "has tremendous temperament." Soon to appear in a movie, she likes mannish clothes like Katharine Hepburn's, refuses to wear her brother-in-law's hats but here wears one of his white pique evening dresses.

One of the most beautiful women in Paris in the opinion of society is Baronne Jean de l'Espee, 29, whose husband is a newspaper editor and also the general councilor for the Basses-Pyrenees department. She is wearing 200,000 franc Fath dress with tiny jeweled hat currently popular for evening.

Marquise de Levis-Mirepoix, 21, is the blond wife of the French aviation inspector general. She maintains year-round tan by skiing and swimming, has a 4-month-old daughter. Noted for the deep d├ęcolletage of many of her costumes she is here wearing a draped printed taffeta designed by Desses.

Princess Philippe Poniatowski wears Fath dress called "Rita" because it was originally designed for Rita Hayworth. She lives outside Paris in a small house with a large garden; flowers are her great interest. With dress consisting of striped taffeta bodice and silk skirt, she wears elaborate necklace.

Grand Embarras

American women accustomed to mass-production clothes and the quick copying of high-style fashions have become somewhat resigned to discovering at a party that another woman present is wearing the same dress. In Paris, however, where party-goiers are dressed mainly by custom couturiers, this is a grand embarras. Last month in Paris socially prominent Jacques Fath gave a ball at which three of his guests discovered that they were wearing the same ornate necklace. What was more, the necklaces had all been sold them by host Fath.

Princess Ghilaine de Polignac appeared dismayed

The Comtesse D'Oncien de Chaffordon disregarded it

Madame June Dufaure looked haughty and disdainful

I guess I must admit, I'm not exactly friends with the New Look. I can't write this post & not admit that, right? I realize that posting all these incredibly beautiful outfits and then saying, "Oh P.S. I don't actually like these" is completely weird. I know they are gorgeous, that's just plain fact. But really, New Look steered fashion away from my favorite silhouettes (especially the shoulders!), and therefore we are frenemies. That being said, I love this article. It's such a blessing to find such a glimpse into a truly pivotal moment in fashion history. Not to mention, I figured a few of you mid-century loving gals will go bananas for these outfits, and I love to be that enabler;) 

Which one was your favorite? Regardless of how I feel about New Look - I would kill for that first coat!! The upturned peplum, stripes & pop up collar... Whew boy, j'adore. 



  1. This is interesting that you aren't a big fan of the "New Look". It's interesting you post this as I was just thinking the other day about a post of what things I really don't like in vintage...I mean we really can't love all years or fashion items...right? One thing that I don't like is having any kind of fruit or berry in a hat... and the idea of wearing any kind of design with a bug in it kinda creeps me out:) I do like the New Look as I look at it as a structural period..very artist and about form...especially the suits. I'm actually looking through a 52 Vogue tonight to get ideas:) I totally see why you are a 40's gal, as this period looks fabulous for you:)) I love this post with all the visual eye candy:)

    1. Hahaha! That's so funny you say the bug thing... I'm shopping online for spider fabric literally right. now. So great! I totally know what you mean about the pieces almost being like an art form. I'd kill to be able to see some of the construction of them up close. For me, it's not even that I "don't like" the new look aesthetically, bc I totally do... it's more that its impact was so HUGE, it completely shifted all of women's fashion at the time. So when I think "i don't like you, new look", it's more some strange fashion jealousy thing. "You took the focus away from my babies!" status. Completely irrational on my part, for fashion is always evolving, that's what makes it so fascinating.

      I knew you'd like this one, I really shared it with you in mind - you rock the new look like *nobodys business*

      xo Sara

    2. Thank you so much for thinking of me in this post:) I was totally in awe of these fabulous pictures when you posted them. I think it's kind of like we appreciate all vintage and gravitate towards what we really love. For instance, I would totally be happy and would love to see a few ladies in my neighborhood rock a berry hat but I doubt that would happen:) I saw this lucite cockroach type of bug bangle (with the real deal embedded in it) the other week on ebay and it totally creeped me out but I would certainly be interested in knowing what outfit was put together with this bangle haha. I also really adore the 30s and 40s so I really get how you feel:) There is also nothing like a great puffy sleeved shoulder and a bia cut dress! I could go on and on:) I also love the play on novelty prints in the 40s and I am always on a good look out for a great swing dress:) Thank you so much dearest Sara for this wonderful post:)) I hope you don't mind if I pin a few:) I"m still always amazed at how tiny those ladies got their waists to be!

  2. Wow amazing blog post! Thanks a million for doing a great job :-)

  3. Drool on the cat, bedspread, pillow, cell phone, self, but no keyboard - phew! :D I just, just barely, because images like this really do make my knees weak and my heart swoon. I could pretty much look at them until the end of time and never tire. Many thanks for sharing these late 40s gem - I know what I want to appear in my dreams now tonight! (Especially the princess' Rita dress, which was my very favourite of these endlessly gorgeous looks.)

    ♥ Jessica

  4. i just pop by before leaving for a barbecue with friends ... i love all the outfits here. this 'chic parisienne' is totally adorable. i have to come back to read the post ... ;)