Monsieur Christian Dior’s debut collection created quite the buzz in 1947. Participating European countries were slowly but steadily recovering from the aftermath of war and there was an optimism in the air from a returning prosperity.
Backed by millionaire textile manufacturer Marcel Boussac, Mssr Dior’s first-ever Spring collection was launched on the 12th of February 1947 after the opening of his eponymous couture house mere months ago. It was an instant hit, with Carmel Snow—editor of Harper’s Bazaar US—calling it the “New Look”.
One of the collection’s most iconic looks was the “Bar”: a calflength, knife-pleated wool skirt worn with a soft-shouldered shantung silk jacket that was cinched at the waist and gently padded at the hips, giving its wearer a perfectly sculpted hourglass figure. It was the first sign of a new spring, signalling regrowth and a welcome celebration of the feminine form.
The hardships and austerity of war were giving way to an extravagance that felt joyous and bold, as the 42-year-old designer’s newly found brand spearheaded the revival of Paris as the fashion capital of the world. Mssr Dior’s collection was lauded even further afield as he was awarded the prestigious Neiman Marcus Fashion Award in Dallas later that year.
The wasp waist with either a full or figure-hugging skirt would be the definitive silhouette of the ’50s, with Mssr Dior part of the vanguard of couturiers to ring the changes until his untimely death in 1957.
Through every change of hand—from Yves Saint Laurent to Marc Bohan, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri—the Bar jacket has remained an icon of Dior, and has been revisited in a range of colours, fabrics and proportions. It strikes the perfect balance between sensuality and power—a tour de force of the savoir faire of its ateliers at 30 Avenue Montaigne. Best jacket, bar none.