Karla Ann Marling’s book “As Seen on TV” addresses the perception television had on shaping the fashion and cultural persona of everyday life in the United States during the 1950’s. She presents this phenomenon as a cultural chain reaction that occurred in response to Christian Dior releasing his new line of clothing right around the same time as President Ike Eisenhower’s inauguration, one of the first major TV events of the Decade. As noted in her book, when she says, “Ike’s 1953 inauguration was one of the first big TV events of the decade.
The cameras caught every detail of.” Eisenhower’s costume: the mink coat, the silly hat worn over bangs, the suit with the nipped-in waist and flared hipline, the charm bracelet, and high heels that pinched (Marling, 1994).”
Of course for the President himself, Christian Dior new line would have no significant effect on the culture or American society, but through his Wife Mamie Eisenhower wearing a dress by the infamous designer as well as wearing more stylish accessories like high heels, and pearls, it introduced a major shift in how women would dress, there on out, and the style itself became known as “The New Look.” In essence it slight freed-up sexual repression of the 1950’s and became representative of a lifestyle, so that they could be completely turned on their head in the 60’s during the explosion of the feminist movement.
Christian Dior designed what became known as the “hour Glass” shape, by using different padded linings as the author notes. The molded, hourglass hap was achieved through a variety of means: padding hidden in the lining of jackets to accentuate the swelling of the hips; boning, stays, or other constricting devices built into waistlines; and an internal framework composed of layers of tulle, organza, silk pongee, and a new “miracle fabric”-nylon”,1994”.
In response to this the author notes that “It could be argued, of course, that the woman inside was irrelevant to the dress, that she was the victim of fashion, enslaved and oppressed by her own dinner gown.” This represents many of the counter arguments presented by men who opposed changes being introduced to society by the fashion industry. This also represents much of the conflict of the reading. The author goes on to present a quote by acclaimed 1950’s psychoanalyst Edmund Bergler when he says, the fashions industry is a “gigantic unconscious hoax” perpetrated on women by homosexual men who wanted to make them look ridiculous (Marling, 1994).”
In sum, the author closes her piece by pointing out how there is still to this day controversy over how much authorship can be placed on Christian Dior for the creation of “The New Look.” It is seen as a culturally defining moment in history, which would eventually give way to the admiration of glamour that was bestowed upon such figures as Jackie O, Marilyn Monroe, and Elizabeth Taylor.
It also represents a slight window into the modern era and its obsession with fashion to the likes of which as produced such irreverent iconic figures as Lady Gaga, who could arguably be pegged as the child of Christian Dior and Mamie Eisenhower, 1953.
Karla Ann Marling’s book (1994). “As seen on TV”
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