Tuesday, May 25, 2010

La Cigale

Christian Dior ~ Day Dress "La Cigale" Automne- Hiver 1952
[photo by Takashi Hatakeyama]
This dress from the collections "Profile Line," which have a distinctive sharp silhouette. In contrast to the slender upper body, the skirt spreads out three-dimensionally. Supported by a stiff petticoat, which has same form of the outer skirt, the skirt maintains a perfect silhouette.

Christian Dior led the golden age of Haute Couture in Paris since introducing the "New Look" in 1947. He created new silhouettes, such as the "Tulip line" and "A-line," one after another for every season. Using a stiff interlining and bones, Dior created three-dimensional silhouettes. 

The Kyoto Costume Institute

Harper's Bazaar (September 1952) described "La Cigale" as built in "gray moiré, so heavy it looks like a pliant metal," while Vogue (September 1, 1952) called it "a masterpiece of construction and execution." In 1952, what has been called the Dior slouch was placed inside a severe International Style edifice. The devices customarily used to soften surface and silhouette in Dior are eschewed, and the dress becomes the housing of the fashionable posture now required by its apparent weight: the skirt is cantilevered at the hipbone—hip forward, stomach in, shoulders down, and the back long and rounded. Dior employed shaped pattern pieces to mold the bodice to the body and likewise to allow for the dilation at the hips.

American periodicals continued to promote Parisian couture lines after World War II, but they also included American design images and the ready-to-wear lines of Paris in order to make their publications relevant to a wide economic range of American women. "La Cigale" has the underpinnings of couture, but with its standard moiré, long, fitted sleeve, and smooth bodice and skirt cut, a facade of this cocktail piece could easily be adapted for the department store. American designers like Anne Fogarty and Ceil Chapman emulated the "New Look" line for cocktail wear, but used less luxurious fabrics and trims. Dior, along with French contemporary Jacques Fath and milliners Lilly Daché and John Fredericks, quickly saw the advantages of promoting cocktail clothing in the American ready-to-wear market, designing specifically for their more inexpensive lines: Dior New York, Jacques Fath for Joseph Halpert, Dachettes, and John Fredericks Charmers.

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