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In February 1947, Paris’ chic Avenue Montaigne played host to a seminal moment in fashion history — Christian Dior’s first show. And WWD was there. “A bright new star flashed into the couture firmament today when Christian Dior presented the first collection of his house,” read the opening to the review in the following day’s paper. Though WWD didn’t coin the phrase, “The New Look” — it’s credited to Carmel Snow, then editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar — it did wire back enough information on the event to make readers feel like they were front-row guests. According to the article, Dior’s “brilliant opening” featured about 150 models. There were hats, which Dior designed, made by milliners Maud et Nano, Sygur and Maud Roser. The models’ girdles and plastic felt bras were made by Andree Lefaucheur, and the pointed toe pumps were provided by Georges. Even the setting was meticulously crafted by Victor Grandpierre, in gray and white with fresh hyacinths planted in the entry garden.
But let’s not forget Monsieur Dior’s clothes. Refuting wartime fabric rations that some argued had crippled Parisian fashion, Dior infamously used up to 20 yards of material in some dresses for his spring 1947 collection. Two silhouettes — “Corolle” and “Figure 8” — barrelled onto the scene that day. With the Corolle, Dior lengthened skirts to cover midcalf for daytime and nearly reached the ankle for dinner and evening. The skirts had a bell-like fullness — set against an impossibly thin waist — and were slightly stiffened to hold their crisp, rounded outlines, which perfectly balanced the look’s gently sloping shoulder. The Figure 8 silhouette had the same cinched waist and slight shoulder, but tapered the skirt to the hem, giving the look a peg-top outline. The rest, as they say, is history.