New Look '50s

The post-war trend revealed a revived interest in high glamour. Inspired by ideals of femininity of the early 1900s, the corseted silhouette of the "New Look", introduced by Christian Dior in 1947, defined the upcoming decade. The dramatic new look was based on a superbly fitted jacket with a tiny "wasp-waist" and a full, calf-length skirt. To complement the look, a slim handbag emerged as the new style star. Vibrant, fun and diverse, the New Look was an impressive mix of high glamour and casual practicality. An abundance of accessories worn properly with every outfit for any occasion was an integral part of the style. Softness was a key element in the designs of the early 1950s. A wide variety of purses complemented luscious minks, sexy stilettos, pretty hats with mysterious mesh, glittering faux jewelry, and chandelier earrings. Elaborate neck scarves, parasols, gloves and fans added a touch of razzle-dazzle to evening outfits made with shantung. Special attention was paid to clever, slenderizing style tricks for larger women to create a younger, slimmer look. Travel and daytime bags were elegantly detailed and fitted with huge outside pockets to accommodate passports and tickets. The New Look displayed its unique personality in numerous boxes, satchels, barrels and pouches. Two distinct shapes - a small box-bag and a large tailored satchel with inside zippers and double compartments - dominated the daywear. The revival of long gloves was also noted. Classic shoulder bags and trim boxes were created to enhance the beauty of the gloved hand. An evident comeback of the luxuriously long clutch was a reaction to the modest, pre-war styles. Skin bags were imported from all over the world, including France, Italy, Argentina, Netherlands, India, Belgium, England, and Spain. Enormous, luxurious travel bags created a real craze in 1957, when some styles were specially equipped with elegant timepieces, hidden jewelry compartments and giant gate-frames. Luxurious evening exotic skin bags sparkled with rhinestones, colorful glass beads and glitzy faux jewels, Cartier style. The extravagant '50s style established the size as the ultimate chic feature in handbags, when in 1958 some alligator travel styles offered for $250 measured enormous 18 inches! By 1959, a change in the direction of fashion was apparent. Trend-setting TV stars were appearing with upswept hairdos, and Yves St. Laurent was taking the hem above the knee creating a very young, girlish look.



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