Tuesday, 23 September 2014

1950s Innovators: Balenciaga and Chanel

Cristobel Balenciaga: Balenciaga was a fashion anarchist of his time. Having been forced out of Spain during the Spanish Civil war he opened his couture  house in Paris in 1937. He managed to stay in business during the war but soured to fame in the Post war era.  Christian Dior  Himself stated that "Haute couture is like an orchestra, for which only Balenciaga is the conductor. The rest of us are musicians, following the directions that he gives us". His innovation of the female silhouette during the 1950s is amplified by the awe of his peers. Balenciaga is responsible for the Balloon jacket, an O-shaped silhouette which formed a cocoon around the upper body to make the legs and neck appear longer on the figure. His genius also included the baby doll dress and  'sack dress' of 1957, the balloon skirt and his seamless use of kimono sleeves in coats. He manifested the 'Bracelet sleeve' with a seven-eighth length that allowed woman to showcase their jewellery at its finest. Considering the emphasis on the waistline at the time and lack of one in his garments allows his influential position to speak for itself.Iconic:  Balenciaga for the 1950 September Issue of Vogue.  Photographed by Irving Penn

Gabriel 'Coco' Chanel:  Chanel's fame was unaffected during World War II however their famous headquarters at 31 Rue de Cambon closed when Germany invaded France. This left Chanel with the opportunity for a post war revival upon their return to the market. Chanel detested Dior's new look which brought back the necessity for a corset which she had worked so hard to abolish in the 1930s. Chanel was provoked in to action arguing 'There are too many men in this business, they don't know how to make clothes for women. How can a woman wear a dress that's cut so she can't lift up her arm to pick up the telephone?'.She was willing to fight to salvage the new woman she had laboured as her own. This struggle brought about the invention of the Chanel suit, an iconic piece of fashion history. Her winter 1954 collection saw her rework the Chanel tweed in the form of a timeless female suit. The slim skirt and collarless jacket oozed femininity, a gold chain was sewn in to the jacket hem to create a fluid line from the shoulder. The uniform for the emerging working woman was born. 
Chanel Suit 1958

Chanel Suit AW 2014

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