Sunday, February 6, 2011

reconsidering the full skirt

Dior Haute Couture Spring 2011
The thing about Dior couture is that it is always about the full skirt.
The full skirt begins and ends with Dior.
The full skirt is Dior.
But what is it about the full skirt?

Last season saw the obsession with the full skirt go universal, spreading far beyond the House of Dior. Rather than Dior and his New Look, it was all about Mad Men, and Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton and Prada and ‘the new woman’ etc etc. With this resurgence in popularity, it is now more obvious than ever before that the full skirt is a contested garment –  but, how feminine really is the full skirt?

When Christian Dior designed a series of collections in the post war period it was all about exaggeration of the female form. The New Look introduced the enormous form fitting/form constricting, inevitably beautiful full skirt into the female wardrobe. The full skirt became an important symbol of the constructed fantasy society in a world reinventing itself after war. The female form was certainly glorified in Dior’s creations, but whether the full skirt was a true representation of femininity or a caricature playing to male expectations of the female body is open to debate.

Dior full skirt 1950s, January Jones as Mad Men's Betty Draper, Ingres, Portait of Madamn Moitessier, Elle UK editoral 2010, Louis Vuitton a/w 2010, SJP as Carrie Bradshaw

The changing lengths and shapes of skirts is a fascinating topic, and with the emergence of the mini skirt in the 1960s, suddenly, Dior’s skirt was matronly. With little leg on show in comparison, it is perhaps, difficult to consider that the full skirt could ever have been perceived as playing to the male gaze.

Indeed, it’s strange how the perception of garments can change overtime. While I love 50s’ full skirts, a part of me realizes that there was something not entirely feminine about them in this period. They certainly accentuated the female form but to what degree, celebratory or otherwise? In the social context of the day, the full skirt was just another element in a society dominated by man with the passive, albeit exceptionally dressed , woman by his side.
Close up of a full skirt at Erdem s/s 2011

But, can the full skirt be considered in the same way in the twenty - first century?

In my opinion, nowadays the full skirt can be viewed in an entirely different manner. Society has changed astonishingly since the 1950s and therefore, it is impossible to view an item like the full skirt in the same way.  The full skirt now can be considered as a bid to reclaim some of that femininity that over time has been lost. Accentuating the female form in the manner of Dior, is far different to the manner in which body con dresses today aim to do the same.

The full skirt is political. It may conceal in comparison to some of our modern wardrobe choices, but it  retains some of Dior’s original fantasy - and an element of fantasy and fun is something I believe clothes should generally try and possess. It’s not granny-ish and fusty, but it’s a garment enriched with conflict and social debate. It celebrates the female form, it always has done, but now it is women reclaiming the full skirt for themselves.


Shelly. said...

I love full skirts, hopefully I'll get enough money to buy one and pair it up with colorful tights and funky shoes. Lovely post and I love your blog. :)

Eva said...

I actually sighed with delight at the first Dior image... gorgeous!

lou and una said...

Brilliant post! How lustful is that Dior skirt it is so beautiful! Perfectly made and shaped!

Anonymous said...

this is so wonderful and helpful to me and my perspective of fashion. thank you. i hope to be a writer for house of dior one day like you.

angel said...

interesante bloog