Sunday, January 27, 2008

Monroe, Harlow & Dior's "New Look". The Facts.

Because truly, it is driving me crazy seeing vintage sellers continually misinforming their customers. Sellers, primarily on eBay, have been perpetuating a disturbing trend when it comes to their listings....aside from the obviousness of using the names of glamorous movie stars to manipulate eBay's search, they are also misleading their customers. The phrase "I would not be surprised if Marilyn Monroe wore something just like this dress back in the chic New Look Era!" (or other times Jean Harlow, as these phrases used by literally scads of sellers now are templated and a few words switched now and then for a little variety) is mind-blowingly insulting to anyone who knows a whit about vintage fashion history, Marilyn OR Jean Harlow.

Lets discuss New Look. The "New Look" these sellers refer to was a revolution in fashion introduced in 1947 by Christian Dior as a return to femininity. The war was over, rationing of textiles had ended, the fashion world was back in full swing and women no longer struggling in a Rosie the Riveter role were ready to focus on their wardrobes. The straight skirts were replaced with billowing full skirts emphasizing a wasp-like, tapered waistline. It was an extreme look, and its peak lasted only into the very early 50s....while full skirts supported by crinolines stayed in vogue until the 60s, the extreme lines of the New Look softened. Dior's New Look circa 1947....

With that, lets look at Jean Harlow. Jean was born on March 3, 1911 and tragically passed away at a very young age on June 7 of 1937. 1937 being 10 years before Dior introduced the New Look. Harlow, aside from not even being ALIVE during the New Look Era, was known for her clingy, draping, bias cut evening gowns.....about as far removed from the concept of the New Look as one can get.

Marilyn. Undisputedly an icon when it comes to glamour, a bombshell, a classic pin-up. Its no wonder she and Harlow are invoked when it comes to describing vintage apparel and the images associated with it. Marilyn was one of the best dressed actresses in Hollywood in the 50's and 60's.....

But again, not typically seen in a full skirt with crinolines. Indeed, if one pays little attention to the subway grate scene in The Seven Year Itch, one could be lead to believe she's wearing a HUGE full skirt. But it was not, and it was not Marilyn's style to wear things that weren't fitted top to bottom, curve conscious and snug. Got a wiggle dress? Very Marilyn. But very much NOT New Look.


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