His arrival in Chicago in 1947 was greeted by women with banners exclaiming “Mr Dior, we abhor dresses to the floor”.Dior’s critics did not deter him. His second collection in July 1947 was even more extreme: more fabric was used as skirts got even longer For Dior, “war had passed out of sight. When hearts were light, mere fabrics could not weigh the body down”.Such emotion attached to “mere” fashion is what makes the Imperial War Museum so excited about the proposed exhibition. Angela Godwin, Keeper of Marketing and Trading at the museum, says: “This exhibition is not just about fashion. The clothes will all have a story behind them.”It shows how war affected people as a whole.
It is a social history of war and people and not war and machines.”The exhibition will cover fashion from the late Thirties andForties, which is essential to understanding just why the New Look was so revolutionary and how its effect reverberated into the decades beyond.New Look garments are scarce, hence their appeal. A New Look coat 50 years ago would have cost pounds 1,000, which is tantamount to winning the lottery today.It is hard now to imagine the hoo-ha caused by a skirt or a dress. During the war people did not lose interest in fashion, they just responded to it in a different way. When you are used to having a dress made out of a German flag captured by your soldier husband in Austria (as happened to one lady who donated her dress to the Imperial War Museum for a previous exhibition), it must be rather difficult to come to terms with a skirt using enough fabric to make 10 others.The New Look made Dior a star for years to come; even the press fell into line. On 27 July 1953, just as the Daily Express was going to press, a messenger delivered the news that Dior had raised his hemlines to just below the knee.
The next day Dior commanded four columns across the paper’s front page.n If you have a New Look dress or wartime outfit of accessories and you would like to lend them to the exhibition, contact Christopher Dowling, Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ Tel: 0171 416 5310.. RICHARD Grimmer, a radio journalist on work experience with the BBC World Service, had an interesting journey on the highways and byways of rail privatisation when he wanted to interview members of the public at Euston station. Wanting to do things correctly, he rang one of the train companies operating from there to notify them of his plan, but was told that the station belonged to Railtrack. Railtrack’s head office referred him to the Midland Zone press office in Birmingham. It in turn referred him back to a Steve Tyler in London.
Mr Grimmer finally got through to Mr Tyler next day, only to be referred back to the Midland Zone press office.