“The New Look” That Never Gets Old

The Dior Bar Jacket reimagined by Raf Simons
Photograph by Patrick Demarchelier

On Wednesday, September 7, The Couture Council of The Museum at FIT will honor Maria Grazia Chiuri, creative director of women’s haute couture, ready-to-wear, and accessories collections for Christian Dior, with its 2022 Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion. This popular and well-attended lunch, held at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, unofficially kicks off NYFW and heralds the fall.

Maria Grazia Chiuri
Photo: thetimes.co.uk.

Chiuri was Dior’s 6th creative director following the founder’s passing at 52 in 1957. Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, and Raf Simons preceded the 58-year-old, who has been at the helm since 2016. Chiuri’s debut Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear collection featured T-shirts emblazoned with “We Should All Be Feminists.”

“The New Look”

It’s impossible to think of Christian Dior and not immediately reflect on “The New Look,” unveiled on February 12, 1947. Even though many women, including Coco Chanel, criticized it, the “New Look” revolutionized women’s dress and reestablished Paris as the center of the fashion world after World War 11. With its defining hourglass silhouette, Dior’s image of radical femininity was achieved by petticoated A-line skirts and waist-defining jackets.

Dior’s Bar jacket is defined by molded curves, a cinched waist, an elevated bust, and padded hips. Dior named it the Bar jacket since the piece was intended for the afternoon cocktail hour at hotels.

Raf Simons’ debut for Christian Dior 2012 Haute Couture
Photo: vogue.com

John Galliano often featured the piece in his couture showings, while Raf Simons made the Bar jacket a staple of his debut, fall 2012 Haute Couture collection. Raf’s iterations are exceptional, owing to his inherent modernism and minimalism. They stand the test of time.

Christian Dior Fall 2022 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: vogue.com

Naturally, the Bar jacket is a mainstay of Chiuri’s collections, and she is constantly re-imagining and updating it. Maria tweaked the iconic jacket for the Dior Fall 2022 Read-to-Wear collection by adding technical inserts created with the Italian start-up D-Air Lab, thus transforming it into a climate-sensitive item.

Christian Dior 2-In-1 Bar Jacket
Photo: dior.com

The 2-In-1 jacket, $4800, crafted in black and white houndstooth compact wool, is designed with a removable black Cannage vest. It is paired with an asymmetric skirt to complete a definitively Dior look or worn on its own. The Denim Bar Jacket, $2900, crafted from raw blue cotton denim, boasts hand topstitching details that enhance its silhouette and fabric-covered buttons for elegant allure.

Christian Dior Denim Bar Jacket
Photo: dior.com

Chiuri is an avowed feminist, and female empowerment is at the heart of what she does. Maria is more likely to show her Bar jackets, corsets, and swirly midi skirts (the defining “New Look” symbols) accessorized with lug soled boots, flat Mary Janes, oxfords, and low-heeled pumps rather than high-heeled pumps, to give it a modern, streetwise, modern edge.

Christopher Esber’s Pierced Chain Blazer is an updated version of the Bar jacket Photo: elysewalker.com

The Bar jacket has remained popular with women because it defies trends. Iconic fashion pieces like this come along only once in a while. It flatters any woman’s figure and is the perfect jacket for almost any occasion. Like the “little black dress,” it’s a wardrobe workhorse that one can always count on.

Alexander McQueen Red Crepe Asymmetric
Blazer Photo: netaporter.com

Through the years, the iconic Bar Jacket is continually being updated in contemporary variations and re-created by Dior creative directors and countless other designers inspired by Dior’s “New Look.”

Proenza Schouler Resort 2023
Photo: theimpression.com

Some of the most outstanding pieces in Proenza Schouler’s two most recent collections (their waist-defining jackets and full skirts with horsehair reinforced hems) are an obvious homage to Dior’s 1947 New Look.

Proenza Schouler Fall 2022 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: theimpression.com

The corseted silhouettes that were the duo’s signature from the beginning have been rethought, thanks to fabric innovation, allowing for comfort, ease, and mobility. The grounded footwear keeps it real.

Junya Watanabe Fall 2011 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: vogue.com

Junya Watanabe is as inspired by army surplus and motorcycle jackets as Dior’s “New Look” peplums, corsets, and crinolines. He often distills the two to create a hybrid. In 2011, Junya reconstructed the Bar jacket in black leather and imbued it with a punkish yet haute couture attitude. The jacket is currently available for sale on 1stdibs.com

Junya Watanabe Fall 2022 Ready-to-Wear
Photo Courtesy of Junya Watanabe

For Fall 2022, the designer took motorcycle jackets, bombers, and ponchos, cut them into pieces of fabric and individual elements, and then spliced them back together to create something new.

Junya Watanabe Fall 2022 Ready-to-Wear
Photo courtesy Junya Watanabe

An article by vogue.com’s Nicole Phelps, “Junya Watanabe Has Made the Must-Have Jacket of Fall 2022”, caught my attention. Nicole praises Junya’s nipped-in waist, padded hip jacket made of patchworked denim twill and army surplus. It recalls the shape of Dior’s Bar jacket, which, as she points out, has been a “winner for 75 years and counting”.

What resonates with me is Nicole’s assessment that while she already has too many jackets in her closet, she is coveting this “stop-you-in–your- tracks-fabulous jacket,” which can be worn with the simplest of uniforms underneath: a black turtleneck and trousers. We all have plenty of those in our closets.

Now, what’s what I call modern!

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

1 Comment
  1. Yea to the Bar jacket! The ultimate in femininity. Thank you, Mr. Dior. And all those that keep the look alive!
    Thanks, Marilyn. Great article

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