I spent my morning learning as much information as I could on 50’s and 60’s fashion and I got the sudden urge to see these beautiful designs in person. The next thing I know I was on a train heading to New York City to see the ‘Paris Refashioned” exhibit held at The Museum At FIT. This exhibit featured designers such as Chanel, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, and Paco Rabanne. The exhibit shows the contrast between couture adapting for the everyday women and the first wave of ready-to-wear.
Chanel felt the need to come out of retirement in 1954 because she despised the direction fashion was heading towards. A couple years prior Christian Dior introduced the ‘The New Look’, which consisted of a cinched waist and a full skirt. Coco Chanel believed that women should live their life and feel comfortable in their clothes; in result she created the Chanel cardigan suit, which had a boxy silhouette that flattered any women. These new silhouettes gave women in the 50’s-60’s the best of both worlds.
In 1966, Saint Laurent opened a ready-to-wear boutique named Rive Gauche; this brand created beautiful ready-to-wear designs with a hint of couture. The exhibition included a navy and white stripped wool suit, which was featured in Vogue and worn by supermodel Twiggy. Saint Laurent said, “There is no reason for me to dress women differently then men. I don’t think that a woman is less feminine in pants than a skirt.” Clearly Saint Laurent was a man ahead of his time.
Fashion became more creative in the mid-60’s and designers began to play with unusual fabrics. The 60’s where a return to childhood, so the more playful of a design the better. Paco Rabanne’s first line was titled ’12 dresses in unwearable materials’; it included plastic links and chain mail. Other unusual materials used in the 60’s include vinyl. If you ever watched Barberella you get the picture.
These designers revolutionized fashion to what it is today; because of these decades the fashion world learned ready-to-wear was the next big thing.