Halston was thrown into the limelight when Jacqueline Kennedy wore his pillbox hat to John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. Soon Halston expanded into women’s wear, creating both couture and ready-to-wear fashion catering to the fashionable and elite jet set. Halston also accepted the honor of designing the 1976 US Olympic team uniforms, redesigned Braniff Airlines’ uniforms in 1977, and created uniforms for the New York Police Department and the Girl Scouts in 1978.
Halston was innovative, using slinky knit material and ultrasuedes, and introducing a halter dress design that elongated a wearer’s silhouette. He pioneered the sensual and soft draped looks associated with disco and his beloved Studio 54.
Blass was well known for his couture take on sportswear. He would make traditional cuts in luxurious fabrics, with incredible craftsmanship and attention to detail. His opulent sportswear was unparalleled, and in pairing a cashmere cardigan with a silk gown, he found new innovative ways to mix it into his formalwear.
Blass achieved internationally recognition when he joined the American team of designers -consisting of Stephen Burrows, Oscar de la Renta, Halston, and Anne Klein with Donna Karan- that was to face off against the French team of designers -Yves Saint Laurent, Emanuel Ungaro, Marc Bohan for Christian Dior, and Hubert de Givenchy- in the infamous “Battle of Versailles” fashion show.
Cashin spearheaded the American casual sportswear look. Her practical, attractive clothing appealed to the increasingly independent and informal post-war woman. Cashin’s designs championed the layering of several lighter garments rather that using a single heavy coat, a reflection of the progressively flexible schedules of American women.
Cashin was Coach’s first designer, and worked with the company until 1974. Her innovative designs and use of leather, mohair, and hardware, as well as her playful, colorful handbag lining, set Coach up for design victory.
In 1967, Time magazine declared Gernreich to be “the most way-out, far-ahead designer in the U.S.,” and with his innovative, experimental, adventurous designs, it would be difficult to deny that Rudi Gernreich was a designer ahead of his time.
Although high-end, Gernreich created works that were youthful and fun, showcasing his strong understanding of shape, color, form, and the human body. His designs sought to liberate the female form from structured fashion, and to challenge reigning beauty and gender norms.
Givenchy opened his couture house in 1952. La Maison Givenchy launched with a collection of separates including the iconic Bettina Blouse. The Bettina and the rest of the collection was a roaring success, earning Givenchy 7 million francs by the end of the day. Givenchy produced fine couture, but in 1954 became the first couturier to present a ready - to - wear line.
Givenchy went agains the “New Look” wave and released his “sack” dress in 1957. The sack dress was provocative, with a loose, circular silhouette that hid the torso, but with high hemlines that showed off the legs. Givenchy’s loose silhouette was a clear predecessor to the shift, trapeze, and babydoll dresses of the 1960s.
A Bite - Sized Look at Christian Dior’s Post-War New Look
After a years of wartime rationing, of scrimp and save, of fear and force, Christian Dior’s “New Look” brought fashion back to France. Dior launched his collection on February 12th, 1947, to uproarious applause. The “New Look” - dubbed so by Caramel Snow, editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar, when she declared "It's such a new look!" - was defined by cinched waists, full skirts, and an extravagant use of fabrics.
Missoni was born of the partnership between husband and wife design duo Ottavio and Rosita Missoni. Ottavio designed and plotted the patterns and colors while Rosita designed the shape and structure of the garments.
Rosita and Ottavio helped put Italian fashion on the map. Their combination of slinky sensual forms and brilliant zigzag and watercolor space dye patterns (often influenced by Guatemalan, Aztec, and Incan designs, as well as Art Deco, Impressionism, and abstract art) defined Italian mid century fashion, while still being harmonious enough to prevail throughout the decades as a mainstay of luxury style.