It’s interesting to note that anything we refer to as “classic” today was, in fact, once not so. Upon invention, any classic would have been modern splendour, perhaps even renegade by design. Then, over time, as these stalwarts of style remain ingrained in our psyches, they evolve to a level of foreverness. They became classic, iconic – terms earned and bestowed.
Following the end of World War II, with society solemn and depleted, Christian Dior was determined to shift the moment to one of fashion exultance. He founded his fashion house a year after V-E Day and subsequently presented his ‘New Look’ collection. However innocuous this name may now sound, what Monsieur Dior offered was a revolutionary cut, a shape that defined – and accentuated – the female form. It was luxurious, sensual and “new” in the least banal way. The collection perpetuated the hourglass archetype, a far cry from the sullen shapelessness of the military-inspired era. And with the world ready to burgeon into a new era, it’s little wonder this sartorial newness became a uniform for its awakening.
Most notable from the collection was the Bar Jacket. A revolutionary blouson that nipped at the waist, tapered at the décolletage, tailored across the shoulders and accentuated volume to the hips. Its release drew immediate, widespread adoration and influenced well-dressed women and designer comrades around the world (even if his competitive foe Coco Chanel regarded his designs as “ridiculous”).
Since then, the Bar Jacket (named as Monsieur Dior imagined it to be worn in the after-hours to bars and society soirees) has remained a covetable symbol of fashion sophistication. Dior’s numerous creative directors have paid their respects to this superb archive with iterations of the Bar presented over the years. From John Galliano to Marc Bohan to Raf Simons and to current creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri. For Fall ’21 Grazia Chiuri played particular attention to the Bar once again, this time sporting it from leopard print – a nod to the House’s forever muse Mizza Bricard.
Perhaps there’s a certain irony in that Monsieur’s ‘New Look’ jacket was first inspired by the Belle Époque era that predated World War I. A time of bustiers and bustles, feather fascinators, French lace and pantaloons. When women were poised and posed, cinched by harness-style corsetry. By the time his creation was launched, this look was relegated passé. So, by appropriating a bygone apparel, his New Look was, in fact, a throw back.
How apt for our times. With our current taste rife with looking back to move forward, we’re forever craving nostalgia through the kaleidoscope of modernity. There’s little doubt the timeline of the Bar jacket will continue, with each new take offering a reflection of the times in which it exists. Today, as we begin to emerge from Pandemia, we’re gravitating towards our own New Look to a reimagined classic that remains as resplendent as ever.
Go behind the scenes with Dior’s Savoir-Faire – a look at the making of this esteemed piece of historical couture. See the meticulous attention to detail from the House’s ateliers, a window into what would have been Monsieur’s vision some 75 years ago.