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Any more for the Christian Dior?

July 8, 2009

I’ve popped a few new patterns up in my  Etsy store. As I was reading the back of this pattern and writing the listing description I suddenly sat up a little straighter. “Fitted jacket features padded hips”  proclaimed the envelope. Padded hips? Hips? Padded??!

Now it was Christian Dior who first introduced padded hips in 1947 with the Corolle line, his collection which introduced the New Look and the 1950s shape as we think of it today. Below is one his first famous creations from this collection, the “Bar” suit. The padding in the hips of the jacket here makes the waist look even teeny-tinier. (Check out this  page at the V&A’s Golden Age of Couture site for more about the tech specs of the suit and detailed photos.)

I suppose as this exciting new silhouette was reproduced in home sewing patterns, inevitably the construction techniques had to follow, too. But I’m still oddly thrilled to come across such tangible evidence of Dior’s techniques being offered up to the home sewer. I’ve certainly never come across any other patterns that feature padded hips- has anyone else? The pattern doesn’t tell you what to pad your hips with, but coyly speaks of ‘hip interlining’, so I guess one could use anything from layers of batting to something a lot thinner, depending on how padded you like your posterior to look. (I’m sure there’s great potential for awkward moments/underhand insults there somewhere: “Why daaaarling, what marvellous hip padding! How do you do it? You must tell me what interlining you use!” “Hip padding? WHAT hip padding?!!?”)

I wonder how long hip padding remained in vogue? Sometimes it can be really difficult to pinpoint to death of a trend. Over at the website Clothes Journal, Heather Vaughan notes an editorial in the September 1948 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine entitled, “How will you look this winter”  which dictates to readers “you will discard the . . .Padded Hips as unsound elements in last year’s radical changes…”

(The title of this post is a line from an Adam Ant song which is stuck in my head. It’s been there all day. If you fancy a bit of 80s New Wave and the charismatic Mr. Ant himself live in full dandified military braided waistcoat check out the video of him singing “Christian Dior” here. The expression on his face as the final chords die away at the end has me in fits every time.)

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 3, 2009 11:31 pm

    Thanks so much for the reference! I write regularly for Worn Through now. Nice piece.

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