Monday, September 24, 2007

The Golden Age of Couture

Fall is the best time of year for many reasons, one of them being all the new museum exhibitions that are opening. I hope to write about many of them in the coming weeks but I thought I would begin with one spectacular exhibition first, The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947 - 1957, which just opening this past weekend at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and runs through January 6, 2008.

"The launch of Christian Dior's New Look in 1947 marked the beginning of a momentous decade in fashion history, one that Dior himself called the 'golden age'. Celebrating the end of war and the birth of a new era, it set a standard for dressmaking and high fashion that has rarely been surpassed."

"In Paris, couture houses such as Balenciaga, Balmain and Fath attracted worldwide attention for elegance and glamour. London was renowned for formal state gowns by court dressmakers and impeccable tailoring by designers like Hardy Amies."

"The production of couture was important to the prestige and economy of both France and Britain. While traditionally catering for wealthy private clients, the couture houses also sought new markets. As the decade progressed, they created perfumes, opened boutiques and licensed their designs to foreign manufacturers. By the late 1950s, the leading couture houses had become global brands."

For those of you who can't make it to the exhibit, the V&A has a great catalog and the website has some wonderful highlights from the show including the 'Bar" suit from Christian Dior seen above, one of Dior's most important designs from his first collection, and also a page from his notebook below. You can also enter a shoe design contest and create your own couture inspired creation from a pattern provided. Pretty exciting stuff! The V&A is definitely giving the Met's Costume Institute a run for it's money!


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