Hot off the shelf: The golden age of couture

The ten years from the launch of Christian Dior’s New Look in 1947 to his death in 1957 was a golden age of fashion; a time when the wonderful workmanship of the Paris ateliers combined with the creativity of designers such as Balenciaga and Givenchy to lead the world. Even London got a look in, as the bespoke tailoring skills learnt in Saville Row were put to use by designers such as Hardy Amies and Norman Hartnell.

This period is the subject of a major exhibition at the Victoria & Albert museum, and The golden age of couture: Paris and London 1947 – 57 is the book of the exhibition.

All the things we’ve come to expect of V & A books on fashion are here; well-chosen photographs of the women who modelled the clothes and those who actually wore them, detailed illustrations of the skills of the women who made them and authorative text about the men who designed them, but my absolute favourite thing in the whole book is probably the most frivolous.

It’s the photograph and detailed list of the clothing of Miss Virgina Lachasse, a doll created as part of a touring exhibition of dressed dolls that raised money for the blind. Her fully accessorized wardrobe included the smallest pair of fully fashioned nylons ever made, she is part of the exhibition at the V & A although she usually lives at the Museum of Costume in Bath and she is gorgeous.

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