Age: early 1950s
Label: Christian Dior New York Original - In Canada Exclusive with Holt Renfrew & Co., Limited. The Christian Dior New York label is a pret-a-porter label, but 50s garments of this era were designed by Christian Dior himself.
Description: This is an early 1950s dress made in the "New Look" style that was originally introduced by Christian Dior in 1947. The New Look was an attempt by Dior to offer the public something different, after the austerity experienced during WWII. Because use of fabric had been restricted during the war, Dior used yards of fabric to make a fuller skirt, and a woman's silhouette was emphasized by accenting the waist.
This dress is made with full length raglan sleeves. The neckline is high with a narrow collar and the dress is constructed in a way that gives the appearance of a overcoat being worn over a plain dress, although it is all one piece, held together by seven buttons down either side of the front. The "jacket" is gathered in pleats at the upper bodice and extends below the waistline and flays out with two large applied square pockets at either side of the hips. The skirt is full with a below the knee length. There are "ties" at either sleeve cuff - I'm unsure of exactly how these are meant to be worn. The dress is unlined.
Material: Silk taffeta
Sizing: No size is indicated, and although this should fit a medium size, please note the following measurements for fit, taking into account the style of the dress:
Shoulders: 17" across approximate - difficult to measure due to raglan cut
Sleeves: 23" long from approximated shoulder
Sleeve inseam: 17"
Bust: 38" around, taken at the underarms, depends on hang of the underarm panels
Waist: 30" around, uncinched
Hips: Full - meant to hang loosely
Unfortunately, there is an odor to the underarm area, noticeable only when steam or heat is applied to the area. Deodorants of the period were not effective, or sometimes simply not used. In my attempts to eliminate the odor, one of the substances that I used caused some color loss and wear to the fabric - there is one tiny split starting at the right armpit near the seam. My only suggestion would be to cut out the area and build a gusset, which a competent seamstress should be able to do. I would not normally suggest altering a 50s Dior, but it would seem to be called for in this case. The only other issue is a slight bit of taffeta separation in a small area of the upper back, visible when inspecting the dress with a strong light behind it. It might be a good idea to re-enforce this somehow, but for now, it is certainly acceptable.
This is a fabulous dress that certainly, if not meant to be worn, could be used simply for display, for study, or as an addition to a fashion collection......I'm pricing it at a more modest level due to the problem, but, as I mentioned, with a professional alteration, this will be a exceptional dress that could be used....
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