Resources / Centuries and Decades / 1950s


Influence of the New Look style has continued into the 1950s, although Dior himself was already bored with it, and he promoted a new silhouette every half-year. Style continued its existence irrespective of the founder. A sandglass silhouette, characteristic for this trend, was manifesting itself everywhere, starting with architecture, interior design and finishing with household goods.

Dior has caught the mood of the epoch. After the scanty and shabby clothes of the wartime, ladies were dreaming of the soft forms emphasizing their womanhood and wanted to be free with their money. Despite the fair criticism for the excessiveness and dishonesties of such luxury at the time when many still had nothing to eat, the tendency continued its victorious procession, adopting new and new adherents. Voices of the feminists sounded reasonably, but the temptation to appear vulnerable and to shift the responsibility over to the man's wide shoulders, lulling in the beams of quiet family happiness, was great.

The "economic miracle" of the post-war years has allowed to improve everyday life and to bring home technology, relieving women from heavy work around the house. Not suspecting anything, women rushed with pleasure into this comfortable "trap", giving away the territory of freedom and the equality, won during the war. Not too high payment for the opportunity to look perfect and rich at any time, demonstrating success and financial well being of her husband.

Footwear, as well as clothes, was cultivating the same idea of femininity, refinement and luxury. Only a slight hint of coquetry, a touch of sensuality, but no open desires - all should be strictly in the frameworks of bon ton. For each event and time of the day – a separate pair of shoes. And surely a woman should be wearing high narrow heels, even when vacuum cleaning or dishwashing.

Tradition attributes the invention of the first real stiletto heel to the well-known footwear designer Roger Vivier. However, for the sake of justice, it should be mentioned, that Italian designers have already worked in this direction before. Light, elegant Italian high heel shoes and sandals were one of the basic export commodities, and in 1953 on a high thin heel in Italy began to name footwear this kind of shoes started to be called stilettos. At approximately the same time Charles Jourdan in France was also creating high heel models.

In the 50s Roger Vivier worked for the House of Christian Dior, and in 1955 he has presented a collection of shoes on high thin heels of various forms. They were united by irreproachable architecture and height.

Domination of the stiletto continued through the first half of the decade, however in the second half shoes with a lower, steadier heel, and even flat soles became more popular. Thanks to Audrie Hepburn’s characters ballet slippers came into fashion. She and Bridgitte Bardot made an even competition with the "queens of magnificent forms", like Gina Lolobrigida, Sofie Loren and other sex-bombs of the decade. Their style in clothes to some extent became a forerunner of "youth" fashion of the sixties.

This decade has generated opposition to consumerism, showing contempt for "consumer society". Its ideology was formed by theatre of absurdity and existential theories of Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. The beatnik culture (Beat Generation), which appeared under the influence of such authors as William Burroughs, Allen Ginsburg and Jack Kerouac, has spread among young intellectuals. By the end of the decade the picture of the "rebellious style" personified by Marlon Brandot and James Din was taking shape. Leather, jeans, T-shirts, chisel shaped boots (winkle pickers) and suede shoes with thick soles - brothel creepers, were manifestation of a protest against the values of "a consumer society" and "bon ton". The image of these young dandies looked at first too radical, but as the children of "baby-boom" (a post-war demographic explosion) matured, these styles began to win a world of fashion, which moved its territory to small boutiques selling "unusual" clothes.