Paris Time Capsule

By

Published March 17, 2009

As Paris Fashion Week recedes from view, we’re left to mull over Theyskens’ soaring heelless wonders (but where now will they step?) and Miu Miu’s fur lapels. It’s easy to forget that clothing didn’t always shock and awe to impress. This week the Online Film Archives unearthed a newsreel covering the 1954 Paris Fashion Week. Wearing designs by the original Christian Dior and Cristóbal Balenciaga, complete with proper gloves and hats, the models of 1954 look positively dainty compared to their modern, stomping, bare-handed counterparts. Even in this grainy footage, you can check the value of a checked Balenciaga coat and a “Dior neckline” suit able to stack up against anything today. Although, looking at the modern houses of Dior and Balenciaga, it’s unlikely that their originators would be disappointed. For the Balenciaga Fall/Winter show, Nicholas Ghesquière gave a curt nod toward the eighties with draped silk dresses. For the house of Dior, John Galliano created gorgeous chiffon gowns that seemed to float as the models moved down the runway. Aside from clothing, it is amazing to watch how those Ladies (with a capital L) of the 1950’s moved—such tiny steps! To combat the current financial woes, it seems helpful for the modern women to have a bit more leg room when they walk and be allowed a decent strut—at least when they come down the runway.