The 1940’s were heavily influenced by the occurrences that happened during this era. Some of these events including World War II, Recession; Revolutions, the ongoing feminism movement, Dior – The New Look and the Parisian Couture house. The 40’s era was where the fashion houses of Dior and Chanel ruled according to Style. com. They dictated the austere style, which was strict and plain; yet at the same time sophisticated yet masculine. The forties decade opened up an extensive variety of original and distinctive styles and still remains to be the foundation of masculinity with a feminine edge.
The 1940’s were a time marked by World War II and the succeeding independence of women thus being an important factor to not only to the development of fashion, but also to change the history of the human being. Whether it is through the foundations of Styling, graphics, Interiors and Fashion. In regards to the historical context of the 1940’s it is fundamental to understand what constitutes fashion and how fashion has evolved through time; emerging it’s place in society today from the historical events of the forties.
The most influential historical occurrence during this period was the Second World War, as fashion design had a great transformation. The colour of fashion was evidently seen through war, with the dark shades dominating the colour palate, which represented a sense of patriotism. It was the decade were masculinity and extreme femininity merged, emphasizing the style of affordable elegance and forties glamour. It was the period that established the makings and combination of male elements through the designs of women’s fashion, as they were restricted by law and moral codes.
It was through the practicality and simplicity that this luxurious wartime style was a success, exemplified through its importance and influence for designers and the needs of today’s society. There is an immersion of the then and now, the forties and the millennium of fashion. The forties style remains as an integral monument as it’s the heritage of women who maintained the sense of masculinity merged with sophistication, and will always be acknowledged as one of the most imperative fashion eras through the generations to come.
Christian Dior lingers to be one of the most admired and ambitious fashion esigners to climb up within the fashion industry from the 1940’s to present. Dior is seen to have an aptitude in finding innovative methods to articulate his individuality and his ability to go against the norm. Dior had however timed it perfectly as women desired change and had enough of the military and functional style in influence from the wartime. It was Dior’s curvaceous line; accentuating the bust, the hips, the waist and the ankles which drew in women as they were eager to feel the sheer extravagance and elegance. “He brought all the elements together and gave them a new emphasise.
Christian Dior revived the feminine look with his first collection that was unveiled to Le Tout Paris on 12th February 1947. This collection symbolized a new beginning built on Nostalgia for the Belle Epoque period, which was deemed as the era of comfort before war. It was a period of war and women dressed in uniforms, as the shortage of fabrics was apparent. Nonetheless Dior revitalized the new image of women through wide skirts, flowers, and soft shoulders with fine waists. Dior not only offered just a new look but a new outlook on not only fashion but also lifestyle.
This look symbolised femininity and opulence, in stark contrast to the wartime silhouette. Although there were disagreements to this change, Dior remained to amaze society with his eagerness to break the current trend. “Your dresses have such a new look…(Caramel Snow, Chief Editor Harpers Bazaar. )” and thus the New Look being Christian Dior’s first ever collection was born. Styling While no period in time has or likely ever will be perfect relating to fashion and styling, it is the 1940’s that best celebrates “Duster hats with a scarf curtain falling over that hair, built up shoes, solid by day but as fanciful as you can find by evening” (p. 79. ) Other styling options usually included elaborate hats, as they required very little material, gloves and red lipstick as it evoked and emphasised the forming of elegance and femininity through ones appearance.
However the definition of beauty was not deemed through only fashion and styling, but was portrayed through a beauty with a focus on health, diet and fitness. This was due to the restriction not only on cosmetics but fabrics including silk stockings. Thus being restricted with certain materials, women felt the need to draw fake hosiery seams on the back of their legs in order to stimulate stockings.
Alongside the deficiency of materials cosmetics was getting tightened, due to the war and rationing. This caused dismay amongst women of the forties as a shrinkage in cosmetics was evident. Women of this era then relied on sourcing cosmetics from the black market, however it was not the safest or most hygienic place to purchase from, due to items being unregulated. Cinematography The early years of the 40’s were not promising for the Hollywood film industry with the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in 1941 as well as the loss of foreign markets.
However, in the mid 40’s the Hollywood film industry rebounded and reached a profitable peak due to technological advancements in sound recording, lighting, special effects, cinematography and the use of colour allowing movies such as Casablanca, National Velvet, and Citizen Kane, to be more watchable. In the years following the war, American film began to show a new darkness known as the film noir movement. Characterized by deep, moody shadows, violent death, moral uncertainty, determined women and conflicted male heroes this movement produced movies including The Maltese Falcon starring Humphrey Bogart and Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious.
In recent years this movement has influenced the Batman Trilogy and the television series Veronica Mars. Swing Style With the mobilization of American dance crazes spread. Boogie – Woogie, Big Band and Swing became the soundtrack of war and young soldiers brought a touch of glamour and exuberance to Europe. Swing style became an integral part of 40’s fashion and the distinctive zoot suit that musicians wore, with high waisted, wide, pegged-leg pants and a long jacket with wide lapels and wider shoulders influenced the shape of suits.
The zoot suit was a conscious display of daring to be different and for some; it was a highly contentious symbol of the racial situation in America. In the 1990’s a renewed interest in swing created the Swing Revival including the songs “Jump Jive an’ Wail” and “Sleepwalk. ” Advertising The advertising of consumer goods focused on the war effect with companies continuing to advertise even though products were in short supply. The products that did exist were positioned in ways that contributed to the war effect emphasising the companies own involvement in the war.
They “tortured the themes of patriotism, conservation and teamwork” (…. . This style of advertising allowed to women to maintain a sense of femininity and glamour which represented maintaining hope. In 1942, the Office of War Information was established to carry out most of the advertising campaigns and worked with as well as within private advertising agencies. Considered “One of the council’s most famous campaigns” by …… was Rosie of the Riveter, inspired by a song to become a promotional film about women working in factories during the war and became an American cultural icon. It increased the number of women working in factories and broadened acceptability of manual jobs for women.
Mass Marketing World War II created America’s consumer society where apparel makers, retailers and the fashion press became the omnipotent forces pushing fashion’s revolving door. They became responsible for creating new fashion trends, introducing people to shop until they drop and to scoop up the novelties the industry promoted including French perfumes with essences composed of the exotic flowers of Frances southern Grasse region which became prized by women around the world. Thousands of soldiers returned from WWII with bottles of Chanel No. 5 for their mothers and sweethearts. Cinema’s influence over fashion
The approach of World War II, curtailed the supply of material but the American woman, in particular film stars of Hollywood’s ‘Golden Age’ such as Vivien Leigh, Ava Gardener, Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable, Veronica Lake and Lana Turner still looked their best. Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca wore the popular suit in many scenes, even during the final scene where she wore the suit and an opened collared blouse. The suit style was reinvented in the 2008 movie Australia that was set in the 1940’s and incorporated a war theme. The 1939 film Gone with the Wind was released later in Europe due to the war which created a popular Gone with the Wind look.