50’s ★ The New Perfection ★

2 Feb
  • WWII was ended by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by America.
▲ Nagasaki after the bomb
  • Cultures of Western European and the United States turned to rebuilding of a war-torn world.
  • Cold War started between the United States and its allies and the Soviet Union and its satellites when Russian launched their first satellite “Sputnik”.
▲ Sputnik
  • There were no communication and links between the two countries throughout the 1950s right till the year 1963 with the assassination of President Kennedy.
▲ President John F. Kennedy
  • The millions of Jews were eliminated by Hitler. Jewish nation was born in 1947, and the nation Israel became independent in 1948.
  • Communists under Chairman Mao Tse-tung took power China in 1949.
▲ Mao Tse-tung
  • In the 1950s Korean War – the South was supported by US while China supported the North.

♥ Fashion 

Parisian Haute Couture suffered much during WWII, but started work again when Paris was liberated from the Occupation in 1944. Although the war was over, confusion reigned, and people seemed unable to completely enjoy the peace.

It was Christian Dior who stimulated the Parisian  Haute Couture revival. In february 1947, Dior first collection was heralded as the “New Look,” which determined the direction of fashion for the 1950s. During the 1950s, Dior presented a consecutive string of new designs each season and his output had a tremendous impact on world fashion
  • 1947 Dior introduced the new look in Paris.
▲ “The new look” by Dior, 1947

In 1954, Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel, who had suspended her work during WWII, made a strong comeback. When women began once again to seek comfort as a respite from the nostalgic fashions os the 1950s, Chanel reintroduced the “Chanel suit,” which was a perfected version of her 1920s cardigan ensemble. With their simple structure, functional Chanel suits found worldwide acceptance in the 1960s, and came to represent the style of the modern 20th century, and this style of suit was later of suit was later adopted in the international market of Ready-to-wear clothing.

  • Coco Chanel returned to the world of fashion in 1954.
▲ Chanel Couture 1950’s

Spanish-born Cristobal Balenciaga was another great designer in the 1950s. Balenciaga was one of the few designers who had hands-on experience of dressmaking techniques, and he sought perfection in every snip and seam. Featuring creative silhouettes, a unique, extra space between the garment and body, and exquisite colors, his designs were so like artworks that Balenciaga became known as “The Master” of Haute Couture. Additionally, since his dresses did not require undergarment to mold the body, they were renowned for comfort. His round-collared suit and slightly fitted, beltless tunic dress of the 1950s became the basis of female garments during the second half of the 20th century.

▲ Cristobal Balenciaga’s day dress 1950s
  • A simple and fresh American sportswear & bathing suite became very popular.
  • There were also Jacques Fath, Pierre Balmain, Lucien Lelong, Hardie Aimes, Mainbocker, Givenchy, Charles James, Roger Vivier, Yves Saint Laurent, Robert Piguet, and Claire McCardell.
After World War II the United Sates reveled in the glow of victory, togetherness, and an economic boom, and fashion topped off this visage of perfection. Women never left the house without full makeup, coiffed hair, and an army of undergarment, while men also kept up with the Joneses in Italian-inspired three button suits and a weekend wardrobe for leisure pursuits. There was an appropriate ensemble for every activity and subculture –from sock hops and poodle skirts to biker gangs and motorcycle jackets.

The Dawning of Teen Fashion

The Teddy Boys grew out of the 1950’s when anything and everything had to do with America. America was viewed as the nation to be. The cars were big and opulent and the austerity by which the English had previously led their lives was something the teenagers of the time were rebelling against.

  • Teddy Boys

The name ‘Teddy’ came from a newspaper headline, which referred to the then King of England, King Edward, as Teddy and so it was. They were Teddy Boys or later, just Ted’s.

Their choice of clothes emulated the dandies of the Edwardian era to some degree, as reintroduced by the Saville Row tailors after the war. Prior to this, the only things people wore were work clothes, school clothes or ‘Sunday best‘ and this period was the first time in Britain that ordinary people dressed for show, caring intensely about how they looked.

For them, the width of the trouser bottoms–known as ‘drainpipes‘ had to be less than fifteen inches, which confused the life out of their parents who often wondered why it mattered. For the lads though, it was all important and often required the trousers to be taken to understanding tailors or seamstresses for them to be altered to the required width.

  • Drainpipes
  • Drape Jacket
  • Crombies
  •  Brothel Creeper
  • The Hairs

Nowadays or at least since the 80’s, the fashion would be referred to as ‘rockabilly‘, but back in the day, it was simply known as a DA. The coif (from the French ‘Coiffure’) was taken directly from Elvis and his contemporaries.

  • Bikers

For women skirts and dresses were tight about the waist, with loose, flowing skirts in bright, bold patterns–at least for the younger generation anyway.


  • Pencil Skirts
  • Poodle Skirt/ Circular Skirt
  • Rockabilities
  • Bandannas
  • Capri Pants

♥ Entertainment & Others 

  • Black & white TV and live broadcasting was invented and the TV series became very popular.
  • The icons of this period are the young rebels and actresses.

Television show like Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver projected the ideal American family, while sex become a hot topic of conversation thanks to the Kinsey Report and the 1953 debut of Play Boy, featuring Marilyn Monroe as its first centerfold. Men and women read articles about how to impress the opposite sex, with fashion and grooming taking center stage.

  • Marilyn Monroe became the new pin up girl of the 1950s.
▲ Marilyn Monroe’s white dress worn in The Seven Year Itch, sold for a $5.6 million after a 20 minute bidding war during the Hollywood memorabilia auction.
  • Audrey Hepburn starred in many movies and was dressed by Givenchy in many roles.
▲ Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in ”Breakfast at Tiffany’s” the most famous film, 1961. (Hepburn wears Givenchy couture, at 5th Ave)
  • Elvis Presley became the new icon of music and the new young rebelling.
  • James Dean epitomized the young rebel generation.
  • John Wayne was very popular into the 1960s with his many cowboy Western movies for cinema and TV
  • Natalie Wood in the movie “West Side Story” and an actress in “Splendor in the Grass” alongside Warren Beatty.
▲ Romeo and Juliet done  right: Tony (Richard Beymer) and Maria (Natalie Wood) in West Side Story
  • Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Doris Day, Gregory Peck, Lauren Bacall, Jane Russell, Ingrid Berman, Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobringida, William Holden–Young actors rebelling against their culture and conservative attitudes.
  • The young rebels listed above all affected the fashion sense of this period.
  • Grace Kelly married to Prince Rainier of Monaco.
Grace Kelly wedding dress


  • Aesthetics: Design was based on machine technology with a new sense of style in architecture, interiors, textile prints, furniture, and objects of art.
  • Houses are seen as a rectangular box with lots of glass and steel. Walls were sliding doors.
  • Jackson Pollack dribbled paint onto floor-spread canvases.


  • Jack Kerouc wrote philosophies on the state of American mind.
  • Eammes designed simple graphic furniture.
  • Danish & Finnish design became the new fashion.
  • Isamu Noguchi used organic sculpture and created incredible furniture.

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