Sixties Redux

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The swinging 60’s were a source of inspiration for many designers at the Spring/Summer 2013 catwalks in London, New York, Paris and Milan. The playful era was seen through the fashion houses use of colour, chequered prints and micro hemlines. Here are some of the brands who displayed their love of the era:

Flower power that is reminiscent of the 60’s was evident through the prints and embellishments seen at Prada. The appliqué flowers adorned on the garments gave a more grown up nod to the decade:


At PPQ the hemlines were super short but the high necked styles created balance with many a collar in sight. Paisley print was frequently used to express femininity.

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Marc Jacobs used predominantly a monotonal colour palette to keep the focus on the collared pieces, the micro scalloped edged hems and to help the collection ooze 60’s cool.

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Moschino’s whole collection epitomised 60’s youth from the bold colours to the model’s beehives. As for the shift dress, the hem is higher and the print zanier than ever before.



Karen Walker took a more subtle approach to the era with a more girly edge by using polka dots and pastel colours.

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Finally Louis Vuitton had a stellar show at Paris Fashion Week with a fantastic chequered back drop to reflect the main print of the collection. Having the models come down giant escalators in two’s gave the prints even more impact. Classic styles were used such as shift dresses and swing jackets juxtaposed with more bold statements such as micro minis and cropped tops. As for accessories, lady like items made a comeback with small tote handbags and bows perched delicately on top of beehives.

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It is clear that the 60’s are back with a bang and will be influencing the fashion trends of Spring. For further inspiration on the decade look at retro style icons, like we do at Lady Jojo’s, such as ever the cool Edie Sedgwick who was a muse to Andy Warhol in his Studio 54 hey days.


No doubt the fashion houses looked to queen of 60’s style, designer Mary Quant who shortened hemlines dramatically and invented the micro mini skirt we know today.


And who could forget ‘The Face’ of the 60’s and the flower power generation supermodel Twiggy. Who’s waif figure made micro shifts in bold prints and colours look immediately androgynous and girly at the same time.


Still want more 60’s fashion? Look no further than our Pinterest board – 60’s Mania.

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A Brief Encounter

I don’t know about you but the thought of going underwear shopping is a pretty daunting prospect to me. It’s not that I am embarrassed about doing it – gone are the years of blushing as I pass Anne Summers – it’s more the thought of where to start? Of course it is a good thing that there are so many shops to get decent underwear from but there are so many different types of bras, knickers, bodysuits, slips and so on out there that it can all get a bit overwhelming.

But at Lady Jojo’s Boutique we often get asked what underwear to wear under certain dresses we make and stock as many of our dresses are halterneck styles which begs the question, what bra do I wear? And similarly our range of pencil dresses often mean many want to wear some form of support to banish any unwanted lumps and bumps – well at least I know I do.

So to tackle these queries I took the plunge and went to the high street, armed with one of our own halterneck dresses and a tight pencil dress to see what underwear was out there that could answer these problems. I am pretty much the perfect candidate to do this as I am one of those awkward sizes (34 E – often a military operation to find) so I usually feel going braless isn’t an option however our handmade halterneck dresses do have boning and tie halter straps meaning it is not quite as nerve racking going braless. I would feel comfortable wearing it without a bra but sometimes it is nice to know there is some support at hand often in the form of a strapless bra which has to be able to stay up on its own accord and not be pulled up constantly. Also I have inherited an apple body shape from my mother, which means I am all hips, so pencil dresses and I aren’t normally friends and I wouldn’t dream of wearing something tight without some supporting underwear on.

ImageAva Spot Dress – £85


New York Dress – £120

The first shop that springs to mind when I think underwear is Marks and Spencer and apparently I am not the only one as 8000 women are fitted for a bra every day in the UK with over 3500 lingerie advisors trained by the retail giant.

At the store I visited on Edinburgh’s high street there was a whole floor of the store dedicated to their underwear range so it took me a while to browse all that was on offer. Being a bit bustier than the average woman I was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of DD+ options. I chose a variety of strapless and multiway bras to conquer the pesky halterneck dress dilemma. All of the styles fitted really well and all stayed up relatively well but the winner was definitely the Multiway Minimiser. Finally a solution for us big busted girls out there, a bra that can decrease the size of your chest so you can squeeze into dresses without having to go a size up due to our unruly cleavage!

Marks and Spencer also had a great range of support wear from waist cinching knickers to full bodies to body shaping tights there is bound to be something to cure all needs. I went for some body sculpting pants and a shaping body to try and smooth out those dreaded love handles. I personally preferred the knickers as opposed to the body as for one they were much easier to get on and felt more comfortable. Also the knickers didn’t look too ridiculous and actually had kind of 1950’s lingerie vibe with its high waisted style .

What’s more the customer service was exceptional with trained lingerie assistants at hand and even a ‘help’ button in the fitting room to shield any embarrassing moments of having to come out and ask for help in your undies…

Overall M&S was really great and would definitely suggest to shop here for woman of all sizes.


Underwired Multiway Minimiser DD-G Bra



Glamour Waist Sculpt Firm Control Underwired B-E Body



Glamour Waist Sculpt Firm Control Knickers


Next up was BHS which had quite a disappointing amount of stock in the store I visited. There were no bras in my size and I tired on some of the standard body shaping items which did the job and were cheaper than Marks and Spencer’s offerings with pieces starting from just £10 making this a definite destination if you are looking for underwear on a budget. BHS did have more options available online as well as some well known lingerie brands.


Black Seamfree Waist Cincher



Black Bodyworks Slip Dress



Black Cotton Mix Multiway


Then came Next who I was surprised to say had very little to their lingerie section in store and only went up to the standard D cup so for anyone in that size range it could be a good option. Furthermore there was no support wear to be seen so all in all a bit of a failed trip. Next’s online store fared slightly better but still not as expansive as I thought it would be.


101 Lace Multiway



101 Mutliway Bra


The last department store on my list was Debenhams. Like M&S there was a lot to choose from but unlike its rival it stocked well known brands such as Freya and Wonderbra. There were many brands and styles to choose from and trained help on hand. Similar results to M&S with similar prices to match.

I tried on a few strapless bras but found I was comparing them to the M&S miracle minimiser bra and they just didn’t hold up quite as well. I was quite impressed by the Wonderbra range and their bras are both very practical with the likes of the deep plunge bra but were also sexy which is a mean feat for support underwear.

They had a good range of shaping underwear including pretty lace high waisted pull in pants which ticked the box at being both functional and pretty. It was actually here that I found my favourite piece of supported underwear in the form of Debenhams ‘Black Shaping Waistnipper’. It was a nifty idea to just have the best bit of a bodysuit – the waist and not have the hassle of trying to squeeze into a full body shaper. It felt really comfortable on and helped to bring some more definition to my waist. I would recommend this form of under garment for fitted styles to banish any unwanted wobbly bits.

I think Debenhams would be a good choice if you were looking for a particular brand and for something more stylish.


Wonderbra Ultimate Strapless Lace Up to a G-Cup Bra



Black high waisted low leg shapewear pants



Black Shaping Waistnipper


I visited La Senza which, for being a sole lingerie store, had very little to offer in the strapless bra department and had no body shaping underwear what so ever. Also I was a little disappointed to see they only went up to a D cup, and for claiming to be underwear specialists this seemed a little curious. But for smaller busted ladies it could be an option for a strapless bra if you like one from their limited collection.


Itec Strapless Seamless Bra


Bravissimo was always going to be an obvious choice for me as they are a plus size lingerie store that only stock sizes D+. I thought this store would have a great range of support and shaping underwear but there was not an awful lot of variety sadly. They only had a handful of strapless bras and they surprisingly didn’t have a lot in the form of body sculpting underwear just a few body suits. Also I find their products to be slightly on the pricey side but they do offer a great customer service and are renowned for their bra fittings which you often have to make appointments for as they are usually really busy.


Deco Strapless Bra



Lola Luxe Basque by Bravissimo


A recent lingerie venture set up by Theo Paphitis of Dragons Den fame is Boux Avenue. It is similar company to La Senza but I feel is slightly more successful as it has sizes ranging from A-H and up to a size 40 back. Unfortunately there was not a store in Edinburgh but looking at their online site there is quite a lot to choose from for all sizes and functions at fairly reasonable prices.


Sexy Plunge U Bra


Lastly came Ann Summers which is usually an experience in itself but was made more so by the fact that the particular day I decided to go shopping was on Valentine’s Day. Never have I seen the place so busy and so full of men getting last minute gifts for their significant others.

Anne Summers is obviously predominantly a sexy lingerie store so I didn’t expect to find many functional pieces such as strapless styles and sucky in pants but they had a fairly good range and even had a shapewear range.

This kind of store could also be a good choice if you didn’t want to go down the strapless bra route as it can be quite uncomfortable for some and it is hard to find one that sits in place and doesn’t have a mind of its own so a possible alternative could be a corset. Anne Summers naturally has a lot of corsets which could be a good option for both a halterneck or a tight pencil dress as corsets are strapless and obviously pull you in to create a desirable hourglass body shape. And you can see the before and after results of these two products.


Exaggerate Black Cami Suspender


My recommended products are Marks and Spencer’s ‘Multiway Minimiser Br’ aas it is a great strapless bra that provides support and sat well under the boned bodice of the halterneck dress. For the pencil dress I loved Debenhams ‘Shaping Waistnipper’ as it didn’t feel too restrictive, it couldn’t be seen under the dress and most importantly it created a nice streamline figure. 









That was my brief venture into the world of underwear and lingerie. I have to say after spending the day going from shop to shop and looking a lot online the thought of underwear shopping is a lot less daunting than before. I also learned that there is so much out there to choose from that there really is something for everyone and for every function imaginable you just have to try on a lot of styles to find which ones are best for you.

Written by Katy Gordon

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The History of Underwear

ImageWe look at how underwear has changed from the late 1800’s through to the 21st century.

In 1860 wasp waists were at the height of fashion therefore corsets were essential. Luckily women were used to this restrictive form of undergarment as they had been wearing them for over 200 years when they were first introduced in the medieval era. Whilst the top half of a women was rigid in fitted bodices, the bottom half was very large and volumized which was achieved through the use of petticoats and hoop skirts which were steel, cage like contraptions. They provided structure for the many layers of fabric on dresses and created the illusion of a smaller waist.


Typical hoop skirt worn in 1860

 It wasn’t until the turn of the new century when corsets were abandoned and replaced by the brassiere. The bra was accidentally invented by a New York socialite in 1913 named Mary Phelps Jacob who tied two handkerchiefs together with ribbon as her corsets were too visible under her sheer and slim lined dress. Word began to catch on of this revolutionary new alternative to the corset and Jacobs soon licensed the design to much success.


Old (left) and new (right) fashions with the arrival of the brassiere 

The sought out androgynous fashions of the 1920’s meant underwear had to be even less bulky than before with the likes of sheaths and silky petticoats to help women obtain a boyish silhouette. As dress hemlines began to rise and rise with the flapper styles, such undergarments like the ‘camiknickers’ were designed. This was literally a camisole vest and a pair of knickers sewn together which helped to conceal a women’s modesty when she was dancing in short styles. This form of underwear was still worn through to the Second World War when women had to take on the jobs of the men who were away at war so many had to wear trousers and the camiknickers were good to wear underneath.


Pattern for Camiknickers in 1927

The 1930’s saw dress hemlines drop again but the style was very straight up and down in various luxurious fabrics such as satins and silks. The dresses of the time clung to the figure so past forms of underwear were not suitable as you could see them underneath. Therefore underwear began to get smaller and smaller where it often looked like women weren’t wearing any at all. This naturally led to more sexy lingerie being developed and worn.


Bra from 1930

During World War II the need for luxurious underwear was neglected and it wasn’t until after the war in 1945 that lingerie began to get popular again and various advertising campaigns were employed to try and entice women to buy into the underwear market. Before she became famous, Marilyn Monroe, modeled for such campaigns which were, in those days, painted by hand.


Marilyn Monroe modelling lingerie in 1945 

1947 saw another turn in fashion with the introduction of Christian Dior’s iconic ‘New Look’ which was characterized by a small, nipped-in waist and full skirt falling below the knee, which emphasized the bust and hips. The style became extremely popular, its full-skirted silhouette influenced fashion and other designers into the 1950’s, and Dior gained a number of high-profile admirers from Hollywood starlets to aristocracy in Europe. The New Look required a sturdy foundation of garments to achieve an hourglass silhouette. A fundamental part of this was the girdle as it helped to create the desired wasp waist. This restrictive piece often extended below the hips and had suspender clips attached to hold up stockings.


Underwear worn under ‘New Look’ designs 

Whilst many women were back in restrictive underwear 40’s pin up girl Bettie Page was one of the first to champion bondage wear and was seen in more risqué lingerie often brandishing a whip. Other forms of sexy underwear included seamed stockings and curve hugging basques. Furthermore the late 50’s saw the likes of Jayne Mansfield, who was tipped as Marilyn Monroe’s rival, wear triangular shaped bras to obtain the ‘pointy’ silhouette which was popular at the time.


Pin Up idol Bettie Page

The 1960’s brought a turn in underwear styles again as the youthful fashions called for more girlish pieces such as the babydoll nighties, frilly knickers and unstructured bras. The later years saw the emergence of modern styles we are used to today such as the balcony bra.


Classic 60’s babydoll style 

Lingerie became more womanly and luxurious in the 70’s with sets often made in delicate lace and silk. Again these styles matched the fashion of the time and complemented the big hairstyles adorned my many.


Lingerie style of the 70’s

1980’s saw more garish styles emerge such as thongs, g-strings and body suits. It was also the first time underwear was worn as a fashion statement for outerwear. This trend was often seen with singers such as Cher who would often wear lingerie whilst performing on stage. Furthermore in 1990 Madonna took this to a new extreme and infamously wore John Paul Gaultier’s cone shaped bra on her Blonde Ambition tour.


Madonna in arguably her most iconic look

As for the rest of the 90’s minimalism was at the height of fashion with Kate Moss being the face of this trend. She was also the body of Calvin Klein adverts and their underwear became the new ‘in’ thing to be seen in, literally, as you could see what brand of underwear people were wearing as it would poke over their waistband. This was often seen as a status symbol to see who was cool enough to be wearing designer underwear.


Calvin Klein Advertisement 1990

Also in 1994 the most iconic outdoor advert was released, that being The Wonderbra campaign which saw supermodel Eva Herizgova posing in her underwear with the tongue in cheek tagline – ‘Hello Boys’. This billboard was so sexy that it claimed to have caused several male drivers to crash due to being distracted by the ad. Wonderbra has since went on to become one of the biggest underwear brands.


Wonderbra Campaign 1994

The beginning of the 21st century saw the revival of old fashioned lingerie. Agent Provocateur, a British high end lingerie company, caused controversy by having pop sweetheart Kylie Minogue ride a bucking bronco in their designs. Also they later roped in Kate Moss to once again model designer undies and this resulted in the ads being titled the sexiest ever. Dita Von Teese single-handedly brought burlesque inspired lingerie to the masses and she even did a collaboration with Wonderbra which featured her signature pieces such as corsets, stockings and suspenders. This retro pin up look has since been adopted by many.


Wonderbra by Dita Von Teese

Finally we can’t ignore the biggest lingerie seller of the Noughties – Victoria Secret. It is credited with making sexy lingerie fashionable. The company holds an annual fashion show which garners a lot of press attention and has launched the careers of supermodels such as Rosie Huntington-Whitely and Miranda Kerr.


Victoria Secret Angels Show 2012

As you can see underwear really has come a long way from the restricted corsets of the 1600’s to the many different forms of lingerie you can get these days in so many styles and shapes and in various fabrics and colours.

Underwear can create structure, completely transform your figure, provide support and can make you feel fabulous so be bold and flaunt what lies beneath!

Written by Katy Gordon

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50’s Style Without a Hitch


This week saw the release of ‘Hitchcock’, the biopic of the legendary director Alfred Hitchcock. Set in 1959 it tells the story of his relationship with his under-valued wife, Alma, as they embark on the making of a new film called ‘Psycho’ which subsequently went on to become one of the best known horror movies of all time.

Not only will it be a telling insight into arguably the most influential and recognisable director of late but also have women lusting after the beautiful costumes worn by the gorgeous Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel. The former gets to grips with playing scream queen, Janet Leigh, and her form fitting wardrobe whilst Johansson parade her enviable figure around in classic fitted styles such as pencil skirts and halter necked gowns.




Not to be out done by her co-star, Jessica Biel also gets a worthy wardrobe all be it slightly more demure. We see her play actress Vera Miles in an array of tailored ensembles and circle cut dresses.



Finally, Helen Mirren plays Hitchcock’s long suffering wife, Alma Reville, but that doesn’t mean her costumes have to suffer as Mirren gets to wear a collection of equally as flattering styles. This is a great demonstration of how this classic look can transcend age groups.




Here are our top suggestions of dresses currently in-stock to emulate these gorgeous ladies!

 Make like Scarlett Johansson and dare to bare in fitted styles from our Pencil Dresses Collection:


Pencil Wanda Dress – £79


Rose Pencil Dress – £95

Looking for a more covered up 1950’s look like Jessica Biel? Try some of our classic 50’s cirlce dresses:


Houndstooth Dress – £39


Vintage Pine Audrey – £39

Follow in Helen Mirren’s footsteps and step into flattering circle dresses to achieve desirable 50’s chic instantly:


Lana Sleeved Circle Dress – £39


Grace Midnight Blue Circle Dress – £39

So shimmy down to the cinema and catch ‘Hitchcock’, in your 50’s attire of course, and see what all the fuss is about for yourself.

Can’t make it to the cinema? Luckily Hitchcock seems to be in fashion at the moment and you can own the BBC’s drama ‘The Girl’ on DVD starring Sienna Miller as Tippi Hedrun. It tells the story of the tumultuous relationship between actress/director and Hitchcock’s unhealthy obsession with her during the filming of the classic thriller ‘The Birds’. Miller gets to wear impeccable costumes reminiscent of the late 50’s fashion from fitted pencil ensembles to vintage fur shrugs. See for yourself on our Pinterest board!

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S/S13 Catwalks Get a 1950’s Revamp

The collections of Spring/Summer 2013 saw 1950s inspired fashion maintain a strong presence yet again on the catwalks with the trend being featured at various shows from Vivienne Westowood to Erdem. 50’s silhouettes were imitated with the help of bell shaped skirts and petticoats were used to create even more volume at Betsey Johnson. Vintage inspired patterns and floral prints were also a hit seen at Holly Fulton and Lena Hoschek.

This season it is all about looking feminine and letting out your inner lady like chic. There is also a deviation away from imitating the bygone style or ‘vintage look’ and instead incorporating the key elements of the decade into contemporary pieces that are timeless. It is an appealing trend as it is taking the best of 50’s fashion, such as the flattering shapes, and giving it a modern twist for the 21st century girl.

Florals were a big hit once again for the day wear looks and these often used the muted colour palettes which were ubiquitous in this year’s collections. The more outlandish designers such as Betsey Johnson and Lena Hoschek have stuck with keeping this style loud and proud choosing to use bright colour blocking and bold patterns.


Vivienne Westwood Red Labelvw2 vw4 vw7


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Lena Hoschek

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Holly Fulton

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Betsey Johnson

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1950s inspired accessories were also predominantly featured on the Spring/Summer catwalks from cat eyed sunglasses to head scarves a la Audrey Hepburn. Such accessories were seen on major catwalks such as Chanel, Marc Jacobs and Zac Posen. Most accessories were rejuvenated to give the pieces more of a contemporary feel.

Cat Eye Sunglasses

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50’s Heels


Head Wear

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Marc By Marc Jacobs


Louis Vuitton


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Victoria Beckham

Have a browse at some more of our favourite 1950s looks from this season on our Pinterest board.

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The Rise and Fall of Mme Gres

I have recently become particularly enamoured with the fantastic French designer Mme Grès who specialised in statuesque Grecian mid-century masterpieces of fashion.  Despite her work being extraordinarily popular she does not sit alongside the other fashion greats of this period however this comes as no surprise as many prominent women have been written out of the male dominated annals of history.  The story of Mme Grès is a truly interesting and poignant one.

Born Germaine Emilie Krebs in 1903 to bourgeoisie Catholic parents in Paris, she became a couturier after being discouraged to pursue her original love of sculpture.  She did an apprenticeship under the couture house of Premet before working as an assistant to a small couturier, Julie Barton.   Soon Barton actually changed the name of her couture house to Alix, Germaine’s original pseudo name, to reflect her assistant’s new found success.  She began to truly carve out a name for herself when she designed the costumes for Jean Giraudoux’s Surrealist play, ‘The Trojan War Will Not Take Place’.  At this point she still worked under the name ‘Alix’ however it was after marrying Russian painter, Serge Anatolievitch Czerefkow, who signed his work with ‘Grès’, an anagram of his forename, that she began to work under this name too.

Mme Grès’ work had a distinct style which she called her ‘Grecian formula’ and was quite unlike anything that other designers were doing at the time.

Her work was truly art and she never went down the more financially viable route of ready-to-wear which many of her contemporaries were doing but remained faithful to her couture background.  Her work has a minimalist style – before it was ever fashionable – with a focus on stunning pleating and drapery which had a uniquely feminine touch for the period.  Whilst other designers of the time were overworking their looks and putting their customers and models in corsets, Grès never used restrictive undergarments and worked with soft fabrics such as silk jersey and taffeta which were gentle against the female skin.  She tended to work directly with the fabric, cutting and pining it onto models according to her sketches, with little preparation of toiles and patterns.

Her love of sculpture was evident in her work which looked stiff and statuesque though her laborious efforts of shaping and draping the fabric so distinctively.

Grès also incorporated within her style, in particular eveningwear, a rather risqué sensuality.  She often featured cut out shapes of erogenous zones in prominent positions on her dresses which simultaneously left the garment rather revealing – quite unusual for this era’s formal wear.

Grès often used 20-30 metres of fabric on just one dress and could take 3 metres of fabric and reduce it to a tiny 7 centimetres through pleating alone.  Not only did this give her dresses volume but also an inner structure that required no extra reinforcing garments such as corsets.  Grès referred to herself as a sculpture of fabric rather than  fashion designer.

During WWII, Grès fled Nazi occupied Paris after an argument with Barton however she retuned a year later in 1941 to open her own couturier business.  The German’s were very disapproving of her excessive use of fabric and were also angered because Grès would not tell them the secrets of her unique fabric techniques.  She was soon forced to close by the Nazi’s.

Grès was famous for her Grecian style which was wore by many celebrities of the era and still continues to be popular today – in fact many of her pieces could easily be on today’s catwalks and nobody would consider it ‘vintage’.  She was not limited to this though and used a variety of different colours and techniques to create very different items, particularly when it came to daywear.  Her signature fabric techniques, and sleeve construction on daywear, are still clearly evident though.

Mme Grès went from strength to strength in the thriving post-war fashion industry of the 1950s and 1960s.  In 1972, she was elected president of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture and soon after she became the first recipient of the Dé d’Or (Golden Thimble award), the highest honour from the Chambre Syndicale.  During this period Grès began to turn over her creative control and in the early 1980s she actually sold the entire company – which was soon brought to ruin by the new owner.  Her name, reputation and business which she had so meticulously built up over her lifetime was now finished.  She retired to an apartment penniless and in obscurity, occasionally sewing orders for friends.  At some point her daughter transferred her to a nursing home and nothing more was said or thought of Mme Gres – that is until the rather strange circumstances surrounding her death.

At some unknown point, Grès died quietly in her nursing home, but her daughter kept her death a secret for a full year.  After the truth was discovered by a journalist, daughter Anne claimed that the secret was because she couldn’t afford the tombstone her mother deserved.  During this period when it became public that Gres had indeed died, a retrospective of her work had taken place in New York and the curators said that they had been communicating with Gres in the lead up to it however it was now clear that at this point she had been dead.  Daughter, Anne, had been the one communicating with the curators, posing as her mother, writing jovial letters with quotes and declaring that she was honoured to have the retrospective.  There must have been embarrassment and shame in the Gres household surrounding her fall into obscurity and poverty whilst her contemporaries where becoming international fashion sensations.

Personally, I find Grès’ career and life quite fascinating and believe that this true artist of the fashion world should no longer be lost to history’s selective memory.

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Christian Dior’s ‘New Look’ of the 1940s and 1950s

Recently I have been particularly taken with ‘The New Look’, which was the major shift in post-war fashion in the late forties.  I find this style particularly interesting as you can really see the beginning of the 1950s shapes which are so popular today.  The New Look is the brainchild of the ever fabulous Christian Dior and was part of a post-war attempt to revive France’s internationally acclaimed fashion industry.

The collection was launched in 1947 and was actually Dior’s first.  He had been invited by a friend, Marcel Boussac, to breathe new life into his struggling clothing company.  Boussac also had investments in textile mills so Dior’s vision of billowing skirts and excess use of fabric appealed to him.  Boussac invested an unprecedented 60million Francs in launching Dior’s couture house which went on to be one of, if not the, biggest influence on post-war fashion.

This 1947 spring/summer collection was originally made up of two lines, ‘Corolle’ and ‘Huit’ however the term ‘New Look’ is said to have came about after Harper’s Bazaar’s editor-in-chief, Carmel Snow, exclaimed “It’s such a new look!”.  The signature style was made up of certain key elements; full-skirts, waspy waists and soft shoulders.  After wartime rationing the yards and yards of fabric used in the designs was a refreshing change.  As we all know, after the war women were encouraged to become homemakers once again, moving out of the workplace, and therefore the feminine, flowery and certainly impractical nature of this fashion was positively encouraged in Western countries.

This Bar Suit is one of the iconic images from the collection as it encompasses the central themes of the style.  The suit delicately displays the feminine body however the tailored jacket adds just the perfect touch of structure to the overall look.  During this period, there was still a slightly sombre tone as the Western world tried to re-build itself economically and the New Look accounts for this as it has a mature feel, attempting to avoid frivolity and girlishness which may have been criticised as poor taste. For example King George V, of British royalty, forbade his daughters from wearing the look as rationing was still prominent in some areas.

Although Dior used a slightly masculine edge, as it was popular in the 1940s, he wanted to veer away from this and encourage women to embrace more feminine styles again – he was particularly fond of the 1930s version of femininity in fashion.  He claimed that he wanted ‘to bring back beauty, feminine clothing, soft rounded shapes and full flowing skirts’.  Above, we can see a couple of examples from this collection which incorporates softer touches such as the ruffling at the collar of the jacket.  The white dress puts emphasis on the bust and hips, another trademark of this collection which enhances the hourglass form beyond the mere nipping in of waists.

After his initial 1947 collection, Dior became much more extreme in his designs as rationing and the war became a distant memory he used fabric in excess and his styles oozed opulence.  He put particular emphasis on further highlighting the waspy waist by excess layering of materials so as the exaggerate the hourglass curves.  He also used in-built padding around the hip and shoulder areas to create the silhouette.

Dior particularly loved to be flamboyant when it came to his evening dresses where he could really experiment with mass quantities of fabric.  He was particularly fond of strapless evening dresses and used built-in feather boning to hold the dresses up which was a feat of engineering in itself as they were rather on the large side.  Tulle was often the fabric of choice for his evening wear skirts as it naturally creates light-weight volume.  These two dresses are examples from his 1949 collections.

The New Look really did change fashion at the time and its influences are still prominent today.  Even within this year’s designer collections, the basic principles of the iconic Bar Suit can clearly be seen on some catwalks – even Christian Dior’s!  The striking silhouette of tiny waists with emphasis on the hourglass curves creating an almost caricature body shape has had a recent resurgence in popularity.

Junya Watanabe RTW FW11

Mary Katrantzou RTW FW11

Christian Dior Couture FW11

Christian Dior Couture SS11

Dior’s trademark evening dress from the New Look period has become a staple style among formal wear, particularly among brides where it is can sometimes be pejoratively referred to as the ‘meringue’.  However, it is also popular among the more eccentric designers and again it can be seen on catwalks as recently as this year.

Vivien Westwood RTW FW11

Monique Lhuilier RTW FW11

Alexander McQueen RTW FW11

Christian Dior Couture SS11

The New Look was a fabulous part of fashion history which paved the way for fashion as art.  Clothes were no longer merely practical garments with vague trends attached but masterpieces in themselves which created a silhouette with no need or regard for the body inside.  Dior was certainly a visionary and his vision continues to be at the forefront of fashion today, over 60 years later.

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