On the left: Ensemble by Piet Zwart, 1916-1917, On the Right: Christian Dior’s New Look, 1947
The legend of the 20th century, how Christian Dior left his mentor Lucien Lelong and started his own house on the promises of fortune from a psychic reading. With money he borrowed from Lelong and additional backing from textile entrepreneur Marcel Boussac, he launched The New Look in 1947 ending the drought and despair of wartime fashion.
In 1916 there had been a tradition of avant-garde artists defying conventional French fashion with their own clothing designs, often guided by their artistic philosophy and bold aesthetics. Gustave Klimt and even Communist Constructivists had reinterpreted dress through their own ideology. Dutch typographer and industrial designer Piet Zwart, who would later to go on to embrace De Stjil style, designed a look which at the time was an antithesis of the columnar frilly dreses that were the fashion. The similarities between his sketch and Dior’s revolutionary silhouette maybe be sheer coincidence but is nonetheless notable and striking.