The Magic of that Dior Silhouette

A novel chapter in the chronicles of fashion

Dior is perceived as one of the world’s grandiose luxury fashion houses, thanks to the “Designer of Dreams”- house founder Christian Dior, an abundance of lavish sketches that were turned into real-life artpieces, meticulously crafted, dreamy garments, picture-perfect accessories and bags, and not at least, thanks to the one and only archetypal curve that evokes the spirit and heritage of the house – which is undeniably the Dior Bar Suit. One of the most influential designs in the history of fashion, the aforesaid ensemble became the icon of the icons.

Photo credit: © Patrick Demarchelier

The attire created by Moniseur Dior is quite a slender-figured feat of architecture, which consists of a calf-length, pleated, extensively voluminous skirt, combined with the ultimate feminine peplum jacket featuring a signature cinched waist, emphasized hips and the fullest of busts, and the look was topped with a slouched pillar-box hat. Whilst the skirt delicately falls and flares out, the curvy, 8-shaped upper part looks sculptural, provides ladies’ looks with a certain yet still obvious voice that hails ‘seductive!’, from headt to toe. This cleverly calculated masterpiece proves that the suit is actually a masterpiece and Moniseur Dior was a master of his craft.

More than 70 years ago, a legend was born on 30 Avenue Montaigne, and a timeless revolution was about to be triggered. The story of the iconic Dior Bar suit began to unfold on the 12th of February, back on a chilly day in 1947, with the launch of the ever-first Christian Dior Haute Couture collection. Still, its story keeps blossoming into new chapters, season after season, till the very present day.

The debuting collection which displayed 90 looks, made its way to the top: the so-called “New Look” collection was launched by the founding father of the company, and many designs from this line, including the signature Dior-silhouette Bar Suit have been engraved into the history of fashion ever since. The Dior Bar Suit was not merely an all-pervading global success and a dazzling work of imagination that turned into art, but also, at the time, it was truly a revolution and a boom in the history of fashion – no wonder the name, “New Look”.

An all-time classic in the making

The Spring-Summer collection, although widely referred to as “New Look”, in fact was initially entitled “Corolle” and “Huit” ( ‘Huit’ meaning ‘Eight’ and referring to the hourglass-like shape of the costume). Right after the show has taken place, Harper Bazaar’s editor-in-chief, burst out:

“It’s quite a revolution, dear Christian! Your dresses have such a new look!”

Carmel Snow

Snow’s witty remark made headlines in the blink of an eye and the news came as swells, causing a major stir on both sides of the Atlantic.

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A womanly dress to impress

Dior’s collection not only embodied the extravaganza, but also, the looks of the collection transmitted a certain joy, a praise for elegance, femininity and opulence in post-war Paris. In the 40’s, amid the severe atmosphere all-over Europe back then, the novel Dior designs transformed postwar ensembles, they were contradictory to the wartime fashion in all aspects. After an era when everything was all doom and gloom, Dior created a haven in terms of its fashion, so this breaktrough moment was something beyond the mere looks themselves. The collection basically turned the fashion world upside-down in the late 40’s. The era of the monotonous uniforms, severe restrictions and yet unprocessed memories of the war grief faded away with the delight radiated by the never-seen-before-collection.

Through this collection, Christian Dior has set heart on enhancing the female figure and he basically impressed the audience with calling their attention to the evergreen beauty of female form. (Although, some elements of masculinity persisted in the collection of highly feminine character.)

As the New Look waltzed into the fashion world, success didn’t hit in plainly. Some perceived Moniseur Dior’s revolutionary looks as outrageous and indecent, due to the lengths, volume and mostly, the sensuality it was bound up with.

Despite some controversies, the collection conquered the world’s epicenter of fashion after its premiere, it rejuvenated the fashion industry of the French, not to mention that it keeps enlivening the Parisian chic and the virtue of the fashion house. A gathering momentum as it was, the release of the Bar Suit attire keeps the house’s brand identity alive, and decades after it was presented, the ‘new look-ish’ garments stand still on the fashion palette.

The Bar Suit has grown into a household name and also an iconic piece that just never goes out of style. It continues to evolve, recharge, reinvent itself, and get recontextualized under the hands of the latest designers, creative directors of the house. Marking a revolution in the fashion world, the Bar Suit now is reinterpreted in a variety of textiles, diverse prints adorn its many faces.

A muse of the house, Marion Cotillard wearing the classic New Look outfit for the occasion of the debuting Dior Magazine. What a better way to kickstart a magazine series, then with the icon of the icons on the cover, in a quintessential Dior way, displaying the virtuoso symbol of the Parisian elegance?

The emblematic New Look was in the limelight at the ‘Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams’ exhibition:

The Bar Suit is the very first ensemble to be presented at the ‘Designer of Dreams’ exhibition.

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Catch a glimpse on some major Dior Bar Suit moments & reinterpretations below:

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The Bar Suit interpreted by Marc Bohan

Bohan preferred feminine lines, soft shapes – which was mirrored by his take on the Bar Suit as well.

Haute Couture Spring/Summer 1987 Collection:

The way Gianfranco Ferré left a trace on the iconic suit

The Italia-based designer turned his crafts into architectural marvels that filled the runway with ornateness. His sytle was characterized by exuberance, opulence, his works reflected a keen love for the grandiose as the voluminous, meticulously adorned details speak for themselves. Needless to say, Gianfranco Ferré’s works lured all front-row-eyes on the slender, extremely feminine waistline.

Haute Couture Spring/Summer 1991 Collection:

Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 1992 Collection:

Haute Couture Spring/Summer 1993 Collection:

John Galliano‘s twist on the Bar Suit

John Galliano’s venture with Dior left all guests at fashion shows at the edge of their seats most probably. The talented designer’s creativity tickled and sparkled, it turned each and every show into a wonderful and visually tuned sensationalist, dramatic event that kept the spirit of the stage alive. His works were sometimes theatrical costume-like, other times they were the definition of elegance taken to the extremes.

Fall 2007 Haute Couture runway show:

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Haute couture autumn/winter 2009 collection:

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Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture A/W 2009/10:

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Haute couture spring/summer 2009 collection:

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Spring 2011 Couture Show:

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The Bar Suit modernized by Raf Simons

Galliano’s succeccor at the grandiose fashion house, Raf Simons, precisely represented a line that was vis-a-vis the style of Galliano. While Galliano’s creations were extremely visual and extravagant, Simons rather kept it to a minimum. His works were pure, sculptural, modern and mainly minimalist in comaparison to Galliano’s visions. Simons’ dresses dispalyed architectural archces and lines, many of his works resembled the house founder’s visions, yet they were recharged with modernist elements.

Haute couture autumn/winter 2012 collection:

Maria Grazia Chiuri‘s interpretation of the Bar Suit

Dior’s current creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri is the first woman at the head of the house. Chiuri’s all-pervading success is partly the result of her embracing a feminist movement through her collections, partly her creative, delicately feminine, sophisticated, yet otherwordly elegant works of art. She had set heart on creating pieces of clothes that fit today’s women’s lifestyle, but through many collaborations, she enriched the couture collections from a cultural point of view as well. The designer often works together with extremely talented artists from many cultural backgrounds, and this way, she includes cultural references, visual elements here and there in her marvellous collections. Chiuri’s shilouettes enliven the kind of graceful feminity that Moniseur Dior himself used to be a fan of. The designer, who celebrates femininity via every collection of hers, reinterprets the Bar Jacket in part and parcel of her collections, indulging audiences with her unique and classic penchant for beauty.

Ready-to-wear Spring/Summer 2017:

Haute couture Spring/Summer 2017 collection:

Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2017 Collection:

Couture Spring/Summer 2018:

Couture Fall/Winter 2018:

Dior Cruise 2019:

The untamed feminity combined with a classic Bar Jacket:

Autumn/Winter 2019-2020:

Above: Dior Bar suit, dressed in all criss-cross tartan check pattern for the winter, “with a masculine spin on feminine curves”.

Spring 2020 collection:

Christian Dior Cruise 2020:

The icon of the icons, this time combined with highly imaginative African elements:

The Bar Suit-inspired look by Maria Grazia Chiuri, at the Cannes Film Festival, worn by Elle Fanning.

The Bar Suit appearing in a series: Outlander.

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