The Golden Age of Couture, Paris and London 1947-1957
— Author Claire Wilcox — Publisher V&A — Presentation The Golden Age of couture celebrates a momentous decade in fashion history that began with the launch of Christian Dior’s famous New Look in 1947 and ended with his death in 1957. It was Dior himself who christened this era fashion’s “golden age”, a period when haute couture trived and Paris enjoyed renown worldwide for the luxurious creations of designers such as Cristobal Balenciaga, Pierre Balmain and Hubert de Givenchy. While never competing with Paris in terms of glamour, London also proved itself a burgeoning fashion capital, boasting Savile Row, the undisputed home of bespoke tailoring, and prominent couturiers such as Charles Creed, Hardy Amies and Norman Hartnell, who dressed debutantes, aristocrats and the royal family.
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The romantic post-war silhouette pioneered by Dior—with full skirts and wasp waists—both scandalized and delighted the fashion world, but the New Look soon caught the public imagination and ushered in a period of remarkable creativity. In this book, the outstanding work of leading couturiers is discussed in detail, set against the context of the post-war years, the growth of the international export market and the establishment of boutique and ready-to-wear lines. From initial sketch to selection of textile, embroidery and trimmings, cutting, fitting, showing and delivery of the long-awaited made-to-measure garments, to the dissemination of new styles in the fashion press, the meticulous care that went into the creation of every single garment is engagingly conveyed. Superb examples of evening gowns, cocktail dresses and tailored suits from the V&A’s collection are shown alongside fashion illustration and evocative photographs by the likes of Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton and Irving Penn. Published to accompany a major V&A exhibition, this book pays tribute to the impeccable workmanship and creative flair behind some of the most famous couture styles of all times.