Take a look at these exquisite dresses from my June 1956 Vogue Magazine. Part of the spring/summer collections of legendary designers Christian Dior, Jacques Fath and Mainbocher.
This first dress is a design by Christian Dior, noted for his introduction of the “New Look” back in 1947. That fiited bodice/full skirt silhouette was still a popular style in 1956 and remains a classic look till this day. That same year Ava Gardner had him design 14 dresses for her character, Lady Susan Ashlow, in the film “The Little Hut” and his romantic floral fragrance, Diorissimo, was launched.
From the article “Paris dresses-summer printings, in silks that are thin and delicious, and as welcome in June as strawberries. Dramatically cool new day-look under a big white hat. Dior’s palette knife print that’s a mingle of many clear reds- the cut, two piece and quite covered.”
Jacques Fath, a self taught designer, was a key figure in the revival of the post World War 11 Paris fashion industry. His creations appealed to a young, very sophisticated international clientele. He dressed many Hollywood stars, including Ava Gardner, Greta Garbo, and Rita Hayworth, who wore one of his dresses when she married Prince Aly Khan. Unfortunately the extremely talented Fath died of leukemia in 1954. But his wife, Genevieve, kept the House of Fath operational for a couple more years with the help of his associates who had previously worked for other famous designers, including Chanel, Pioret, Balmain, Schiaparelli and Patou. With talent like that behind them, it’s no surprise that this dress from the House of Fath’s 1956 spring/summer collection is so gorgeous!
BTW, the stunning backgrounds for both of these photos are Monet’s Nympheas(Water Lilly paintings) at the Musee de L’Orangerie, Paris.
“Silk chiffon print from Fath-a botany lesson on the most delicate herbs. It also illustrates a pretty new look for little summer dinners in town, softness wrapped very close, with the fresh surprise of white linen at the far flung neckline.”
Main Rousseau Bocher, aka Mainbocher, a Chicago born designer who originally was the editor in chief of Vogue Magazine in Paris before embarking on his illustrious career in fashion design. He was the only American to ever successfully operate a couture house in Paris. He relocated his business to New York in 1940 where he continued creating luxurious haute couture dresses and gowns for the world’s most famous women, including the Wallis Simpson’s (Duchess of Windsor) wedding dress. Society ladies, actresses and royalty coveted the timeless, understated elegance of his designs. He considered himself the “Rolls Royce of the Fashion Trade”.
From the Vogue article- American Summer Glamour-The Mainbocher Look. “Casual summer perfection by Mainbocher in silk and cashmere, a delicious example of coolness and ease combined with a fine sense of formality-and news. The dress, a bright blur of soft silk flowers, uses a cardigan sweater as luxurioulsy as if it were a sable jacket.”