Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Christian Dior

Christian Dior

Christian Dior (French, 1905–1957). Eventail Dinner Dress, fall/winter 1948–49. Black wool crepe, pink silk crush velvet, and black silk faille. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Isabel Shults Fund, 2006 (2006.20a–c).

After the sartorial constraints of World War II, Christian Dior’s presentation of 1947, with its emphasis on a silhouette with rounded shoulders, wasp waist, padded hips, and lowered hemline, created a sensation. Carmel Snow of Harper’s Bazaar is said to have told Dior after his inaugural collection, “It’s quite a revolution, dear Christian. Your dresses have such a new look.” Although “New Look” came to be attached to the collection, the style was, in fact, one that looked back almost a half a century to fin de siècle corseted styles.

From the auspicious launch of this initial “Corolle,” or “Ring of Petals,” collection, Dior moved to other varied themes, each characterized by its own geometries and silhouettes. He dubbed the fall/winter 1948-49 collection in which this dinner dress appeared “Zigzag.” Every design from the collection incorporated sharp angled forms that extended the collar, the hipline, or the skirt. “Eventail,” or “Fan,” introduces stiff canvas interfacing to several graduated layers of black wool crepe to buttress their carefully calibrated splay.

There is more to Dior than just the “New Look.” Dior is the man who made the world look new. I think it’s extraordinary how one collection can stand for so much, can define one man, one house, but also how one show can initiate such change. Well, where do you go from there?

I think the true genius of Dior was his ability to survive and continue from the 1947 New Look, to continue to innovate, constantly move and challenge fashion and not to be afraid to change the silhouette that shaped his whole career. I think it’s impressive and a mark of Mr. Dior’s courage as much as his design creativity that less than a year after changing the woman’s way of dressing he said “Well what about this, this, or this?” Dior didn’t get stuck in a rut nor was he one to be pigeonholed with one look. Each season meant a New Look! A year after the revolution he had evolved, his women had evolved, so it was time for the Next New Look.

Fashion is all about change; fashion when it works well is the barometer of our time—this is what Dior was a master of. There is more to Mr. Dior than a full skirt with a great expanse of fabrics, just as there is more to me than a bias-cut dress! Look at the elegance and the genius of this cut, how the line twists and slims the waist and the inverted folds bring movement to the form. The precision and grace are masterful and the wearer becomes a work of art.

—John Galliano

Comments (84)

  1. Laurie Aron Says:

    I adore Dior. He was amazingly creative, and everything that came out of his house was pristinely well-made…yet…am I alone in thinking this otherwise lovely dress was sewn very lumpily along the top of the “fan”? You had to be there to observe this, since the photo doesn’t show it.

  2. AlexGW Says:

    J’adore Dior! At first glance, I wasn’t quite sure that I would like this design, seeing that the fan-part was a tad bit awkward, but one needs to keep in mind how this design was like nohing else at the time. Very creative, very well-done.

  3. Lori Ettlinger Gross Says:

    This lovely frock is more than the designer’s attempt to turn the fashion tides; it represented a feminine standard that reverberated far longer than even Dior could possibly foresee. With the wasp-waist and full skirt he didn’t create something new as much as he crystallized the image of a well-dressed woman. Only later was this to be dubbed by fashion magazines as “lady-like dressing”.

    Dior took the dowager-drape of the Victorian period and made it light, delicate, and almost giddy. In some ways it also seems to borrow from the private decadence of eighteenth-century boudoir dress, and fitted for the refinement and modernity of the twentieth. The skirt flirts with a lean leg as the narrow bodice dallies with the neckline…this is the courtship of fashion and Dior, its matchmaker.

  4. c willow Says:

    the top looks alot like a tee shirt over a pink tank top, but I really like the triangle of color at the top.

  5. Justin Says:

    One of my favorite Christian Dior pieces, there are some great archive photos of this on a model or client (not sure who exactly) from the back that truly show how amazing and dimentional the zigzag portion is.

  6. kecya Says:

    I think he had a Oriental influences also for the New Look. I love it

  7. freddie Says:

    78 years old and once slim and a good clothes model, I would have loved this dress and looked stunning. Dior had a good sense of what made a woman sensational when she entered the room. I miss the drama of those styles–they were quite sensational.

  8. CHARLIE H. Says:


  9. CHARLIE H. Says:


  10. Yesenia Sosa Says:

    I love this dress. This is something I would wear to go to a special event. I only have one question how can a women walk if all the layers are on one side, would it be heavy for a women to wear?

    Wood Tobe Coburn School

  11. Joi Greenwood Says:

    Christian Dior is timeless and this dress displays the ageless style of this great desinger! Being a woman of cuvres, I love the way this garment fits the female body like a glove. Black is classic and the large detail that sits on the waist gives this dress a perfect elegence. I love every aspect of this garment from neckline to hem…kudos to Christian Dior!

  12. Marleni Galindo Says:

    Dior was the first to come with the “new look”and since then he has become the greatest designer. I think this dress is beautiful not only because its different but because of the twists wrap of the dress which makes it add movement to the dress the lowered hems also add its special touch.

  13. Mariane Says:

    This is an amazing piece; I was mesmerized by it. I think it is pure genius and would love to wear it! I love that at first it seems like a normal black dress but as it turns you get to see the whole thing and it is stunning!!!

  14. Halelyah. W Says:

    I think Dior has a style all his own, and his creations are some of the most beautiful. Dior gowns especially. They are elegant , original and timeless. I would love to wear a Dior evening gown. This gown is simple but great! Even his simplest creations are magnificent.

  15. M.G. Says:

    Nothing is more breath taking then the turn into the last gallery room where you walk into the “Oyster” dress from Alexander McQueen!

    While most of the classical designers have an established and expected level of style and “surprise”, Alexander brings a freshness that ironically remains timeless.

    As a friend said as we gazed at the dress, “how can anyone ever let this dress go???”

    Thank God its forever immortalized in the blog.

  16. Tanija Gobin Says:

    There are no words to capture the power and the magnitude of the thought process turned in to the being that is in this room!

  17. Aqueilla Clarke Says:

    I think this Christian Dior dress has similarities to the John Gallianos spring/summer 2000 evening dress . Although they are from two different time periods they both display the same beauty and elegance. It is as if they are two great designers creating from the same state of mind. They have created two visions of beauty elegantly displayed in every aspect from the silhoutte, to the neckline, to the fit. Although they are simple yet classic pieces the little details that have been added make them the most magnificant pieces I have ever seen.

  18. Laurie Aron Says:

    Hi again. I was just at the Costume Institute again today, and looked more carefully at this dress. It’s not lumpy sewing across the top of the fan, as I had remembered, but two distinct places, looking at the fan right along the hip toward the waist, where the fabric is uncharacteristically lumpy or puckered. I supposed it could just be a sign of repair or age. I certainly don’t think Dior would let a dress out of his salon with those puckers. But did nobody else see them?

  19. Kimberly S Says:

    This dress feels like sculpture to me, the strong lines and the heavy fabric. It must have photographed well with b&w film.

  20. Jade O Says:


  21. DeAnna Levy Says:

    Dior definitly got the term “New Look” right when he designed this dress. To me this dress seems to be a timeless piece. Due to the fact that a woman could wear this back in 1948 when it was first created, or now in 2008 six decades later and still look like she just stepped off of a runway.

  22. James Ward Says:

    Is the true genius of this gown the fact that it actually points to pants as a viable evening option? I recall seeing the combination a few years later, when skinny pants were worn under gowns with open-front skirts (see Lovely to Look At MGM, 1952). The concept has been in and out ever since. Also, is this one of the first fitted skirt gowns that tapers in at the calf? The resulting silhouette simultaneously narrows the waist and gives drama to the seat…of course, with the curve-loving, natural stretch of jersey. It’s very sexy. The sash is a fabulous, updated farthingale. But did he really need to add the pink velvet inset? Personally, I think the contrasting texture of faille adds enough evening gloss to the wool jersey. I bet the patroness considered this neckline too deep and asked for a design edit.

  23. Laurie Aron Says:

    The actual “New Look” or “Corolle,” as Dior called it, was the wasp-waisted very full and long-skirted, tight jacketed immediately post-war one. This dress is the next iteration. Dior changed the complete look/shape every season. A true dictator of fashion. There is a wonderful photograph of him that I saw in a book of him bending at a model’s calf with a measuring tape to show the reporters the correct hem line that season. He was genius at marketing as well as designing.

  24. ayac Says:

    This dress is amazing!



  26. Kristin Bonecutter Says:

    I truly believe that this a revolutionary piece. Although it was in its time a “new look”, I think that it shows how much fashion can come full circle. As the description points out, this dress recalls the days of corsets and full hips. It uses several different fabrics juxtapositioned together that are different yet flow beautifully next to one another. Dior knew how to adjust with the times, and this dress shows only one instance of him doing so. He listened to what women wanted and embraced it fully.

  27. Laurie Aron Says:

    I adore the dress. But I am totally alone, here, in noticing the awkward sewing.

  28. Beatriz Guardia Says:

    Christian Dior made a revolution for women’s wear. He showed women to be feminine and curvy. With this dress he designed, made with black wool crepe, pink silk crush velvet, and black silk faille, makes the wearer look classy, sophisticated, beautiful, and powerful.

  29. Yesenia Sosa Says:

    This dress is black silk faille and it was made for fall/winter time. Also this dress is interfacing to several graduated layers of black crepe on one side which it should make it a little heavier on one side. Dior use silk crush velvet and this is a part of his New Look collection.

  30. Desmond Says:

    I really enjoy this dress. Dior was, of course, the master of design, but I can’t help thinking that the sleeves are too casual and take attention away from the unusual hemline.

  31. Robin Says:

    very classy and classic.

  32. Rachel Says:

    I really like it its classy and artistic… really pretty and unique.

  33. Jane Says:

    Beautiful and elagent. I love it! I could wear it!

  34. Caitlin R Says:

    When I saw this dress I immediately knew that it had to be Dior. It has a classic design and genius cut. However I feel that this photograph does not do the dress justice. Although this dress is not currently made, it is timeless and shows a turn in the fashion industry thus the name “New Look.” Dior always has classic and elegant designs that endure the many changes of the fashion industry.

  35. Rachel Bauer Says:

    This dress is a perfect depiction of the fact that Dior has much more to offer than The New Look. While the New Look was fantastic, and completely necessary at the time, Dior was a genius because he didn’t keep doing the same thing. He probably could have gotten away with it, but decided to keep going creatively. His use of fabric and construction in this gown is beautiful.

  36. Julie Ellul Says:

    I am usually one that loves the classics, but with a twist. This piece by Dior definitely accomplishes this and in such a beautiful and elegant way. After viewing each piece in the exhibit, I came directly back to this one for a last look. it was by far my favorite in the whole collection of garments!

    To me, this dress draws an absolute connection of artistical genious and fashionable elegance. Like it was said in the post, Dior’s dress is a walking piece of art. Wearing it would be amazing for me because it expresses what I love most about fashion and that is incorporating art in a desireable and wearable way. Lastly, it simply is lavish.

  37. Andrew Spargo Says:

    Even though this is a dress around the time of the New Look it defiantly has a different kind of quality then the more common dress of Dior’s at this time. I find it more refined and it has a more classic and almost, structural feel to it. I think more interesting and unique then his other work. Simple amazing!

  38. Lindsey Baker Says:

    This is a darling little dress! It is so timeless. I escpecially like the pink modest, I think it adds a sweet feminimity to the dress!

  39. A.Radier Says:

    Do we love Dior b.c Dior or b/c of the design?? Hmmm i guess one will never know!!! This is not up to Dior par with me and I would tell Dior myself. As a dictator of fashion it isnt grand and as a form of art it isnt pleasing to the eye!! When I saw the garmet at the met I was quite turned off!!

  40. lorenzia balmer Says:

    i ador dior . its soo lovely. this outfit is very cute its not doing too much that’s what catches my attention.

  41. Matilda Says:

    I have always been drawn to Dior more than any other line; its cutting edge apparel always has a classic element to it, a balance that can be difficult to achieve. This design is gorgeous! I’m surprised that in recent seasons we haven’t seen the return of a fantastic geometric approach such as this one.

  42. Miriam Hohag Says:

    This design has been referenced recently on Project Runway Canada.

  43. Roma-Jade Says:

    The photo on this site really does not do this piece justice. It is so elegant and simple, yet so ultra modern for it’s time. I didn’t particularly like the pink piece of fabric used around the bust, it didn’t work well with the style. If I were to wear this outfit I would either not wear the pink piece or replace it with a brighter color such as a true red. This piece is definitely inspirational because it shows that taking chances with designs can prove to be rewarding.

  44. jada tedder Says:

    i think this would go great with some nice pink flat shoe’s and also i just love this dress

  45. jada tedder Says:

    i think this dress would go good with pink asseriors and shoe’s and also i love this outfit because pink is my favortrite color

  46. Florin Furdui Says:

    Dior was a master at creating shapes and silhouettes, so this dress is a masterpiece, I absolultly love it, I like how he’s showing the same beauty and elegance in each of his creativity.

  47. Marina Says:

    Fabulous construction… the dress combines pink and black and manages not to look tacky or Hot Topic-y, which is quite an achievement. The simplicty of the fabric is perfect for the shape of the dress. So modern! Ferosh!

  48. Mikole Halsu Says:

    Doir may be great, but I was horrified by the craftsmanship–what is up with that shoddily place stitch on the front lateral portion of the garment–is this home-econ 101? C’mon people–high fashion should be better than this.

  49. Erin Says:

    I hope no one mistakes this master piece for a folded black napkin.

  50. Rachel Says:

    I love how the side of the dress is so different from any other dress. It gives it a extra pizzaz! I would definately buy it if it was on the market!!!!!

  51. Mollie Says:

    This dress is a magnificent work of art. the geometis pattern accents the hips, and the touch of color at the top adds just the right amount of joy to an otherwise somber peice. I would love to wear this dress!

  52. Lauren Says:

    These clothes are very interesting. Iguess I shoould learn to sew.

  53. Maru Says:

    its brilliant!! beautiful!! i love it!!
    in my opinion is the best of all.

  54. Stephanie & Delphine Says:

    eh oui c`est francais!!!!

  55. Jesseeegan Says:

    I am extremely excited to see Hussein Chalayan’s remote control dress here. I have done many research papers and projects on his collections and films. It is by far my favorite piece because it symbolizes where I would like to be as a designer. I have always been interested in futuristic design and major effects. Alexander McQueen’s Oyster dress also caught my eye right away. The detail and beauty of the dress is overwhelmingly brilliant.

  56. Jamie M Says:

    I find this pice to be one of the mroe beautiful and itneresting at this exhibit. The design encompasses fit and volume in perfect harmony. The angled, geometric portion does not draw attention away fprom the narrowed waist, but draws the eye around the dress to the back where the wiast again comes to a narrowed point. The simple, yet detailed and thought out design makes for a superior dress

  57. Soreya Says:

    Diors Dinner Dress of 1948/49 is a beautiful example of how Dior stood out in that time and changed the fashion world. A classic blak slimming silhouette with a twist. Amazing how just the simple abstact fan shape formed at the hip can make all the difference in the over all beauty of the garment. I WANT TO PUT IT ON.

  58. Ken Chu Says:

    DIOR! This Dior dress is a very astonishing peice of work. It shows the creativity of Christian Dior and the style that is still portrayed throughout the design house today. This Dior dress has a simple V shape neckline with a high waist which elongates the length of the skirt. This dress also reminds me of the EAST MEETS WEST couture collection done by John Galliano. The fan part of the skirt reminds me of oragami inspired pleating and folds. This was done in the collection by john galliano. This dress also looks very heavy because of the amont of fabric used to create the fan and pleating at the waist. Over all this dress stands out as “Dior” and still looks timeless. :)

  59. Stephania Says:

    This dress was beautiful and placed nicely in the exhibit. As you walk down from the stairs, seeing this dress is representative of the ‘couture’ you are about to see.

  60. Yaeli Says:

    king of fashion….

  61. kenditto Says:

    I love this dress.It reminds me of old time hollywood..Amazing

  62. Jen Says:

    I adore this dress. It still seems very fashion-forward and conceptual even today.

  63. Coralie Says:

    I appreciate it.
    It is so pretty. Some dresses are so long…But they are still beautiful.

  64. Lisa Says:

    SUPER stylish. I would love to wear this dress now. I loved the whole collection!

  65. Nicole Says:

    this Dior piece looks like it just walked off the streets of 1947 and into 2008. very practical and chic, even in our new generation!

  66. GiGixcv Says:


  67. GiGiPRECiLLA Says:

    i love this outfit ti’sss sooo HOTTTT

  68. Jessica Says:

    I saw the exhibit for first time this Saturday and completely fell in love with this Dior dress when I laid eyes on it. This dress definitely says Dior. It’s timeless and classic. I love the fan detailing because it gives a unique shape to the dress. I wish I could have taken a picture of it, but I was afraid of museum security.

  69. Tikwan Says:

    this dress is to die for

  70. amy Says:

    Dior is a classic. He loves the female form and sets it off to perfection. There is always interesting detail but never overdone. Pure elegance.

  71. micaela Says:

    I love this dress but I dont enjoy the pink underlayer. I seems heavy and seems to ground the otherwise airy feel of the dress.

  72. Patty B Says:

    Love this dress! Especially that it could hide at least one bad hip

  73. Dessa Says:

    I enjoy the commentary provided with this dress, as it addresses how fashion played a role in the world, and specifically post WWII. As the statement on the wall says, fashion is an external expression that changes so obviously with the times. I enjoy how the exhibition addresses this larger context.

  74. Raquel Says:

    Fantastic Dress, I love the silhouette. It has a beautifully layered torso. Something I would definitelty wear!!

  75. Suzanne Says:

    its relevance to fashion as a form is so pertinent to what we are experiencing in Fashion today

  76. meimi1995529 Says:

    I think this dress is really pretty. I’m not two crazy about the fan part of the dress but someone else I know likes it alot. She and I were joking about that if we wore this dress and we had dirty hands and forgot a napkin that fan would really come in handy.

  77. carrro Says:

    what a beaut.

  78. Krazy Says:

    I love the under pink shirt like thing it makes it open for a fun filled evening.
    The Blsck makes it elegant and nice to wear.

  79. Patti Marchesi Says:

    As always the MET costume exhibit never ceases to please the eye and the imagination. This Dior dress was far the best of the collection–it is timeless, elegant & edgy all in one creation. One can visualize some of our greatest fashion icons wearing this through the ages–from Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Jackie O all the way to Madonna. They all would have worn this number equally as well depsite the difference in decades. Good job!

  80. Darby Says:

    I love the cuts in this dress!

  81. kristin Says:

    me gusta la camiseta-like top
    the folds are really pretty

  82. alix Says:

    Le chic francais, en toute simplicite…

  83. Barb Says:

    Wow this must have been heavy to wear.

  84. Lucil Pipp Says:

    This dress is most definitely one I favor. The chic cut is the perfect for anyone who thinks high fashion is important! If this were a students work I would definitely consider their work for my gallery.

    Stay Chic
    Lucil Pipp :)

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