I think you all know I'm not the biggest fan of the New Look. I think it's all unnecessarily ornate and excessive. Girls (or should I say women? No one looks like a girl in a Christian Dior X silhouette dress) looked like pretty and very sophisticated frosted cakes, but I don't think those clothes did anything for their sense of independence and modernity. However, I can understand the fascination with luxury after a war and a post-war. After almost a decade of having to wear turbans in order to conceal dirty hair, how to resist the temptation of looking like a cross between Marie Antoinette and a Canova sculpture? Especially when the biggest Hollywood stars were all falling for the look. I mean, when you see Marilyn Monroe modelling like this in "How to marry a millionaire", not only you want her outfit, but you would even like to be as clumsy as her.
I've always felt in the 50's there is a special relationship between fashion and film (I'm of course talking about Hollywood and not about Ingmar Bergman or Roberto Rossellini). When I was almost a baby I already was too exposed to things like Marilyn's obsession with diamonds, Fred Astaire shooting a glamourous Audrey Hepburn in Paris or Lana Turner being cold as ice and fabulously wrapped in metres of "satin duchesse". Had I been a little boy that would have made me so gay. In the recurring subject, in all these films, of relationships endangered by the woman's passion for fashion, not once I felt identified with the man's more rational point of view.
Those clothes, along with Cinemascope and Technicolor, created a curiously unreal, almost sickening sweet athmosphere: too cheerful, too artificial, too naïve to be true, these films create the true essence of Hollywood's way of making cinema; which has been often bitterly criticised and labelled as "dangerously unintellectual". Still, I completely forget what is the point in films by people like Lars Von Trier when I'm watching "Singin' in the Rain".