World War II and the postwar economy

During World War II, women continued and reestablished the utilitarian trends they started during World War I. Even more so than during World War I, women entered the work force and often took on very labor-intensive jobs—such as building fighter airplanes for the war effort—and therefore demanded appropriate clothing for their work, such as pants and overalls. In England, under the British Civilian Clothing Order CC41 in 1941, due to the need to focus most of the country's raw materials and resources on the war effort, the government had to severely ration the sale and use of cloth and fashion embellishments. Laws were introduced that made it illegal for a manufacturer or designer to use unnecessary buttons, stitches, pockets, pleats, or any embellishments that were not functional to garments. This was known as the Government Utility Scheme. The members of the Incorporated Society of London Fashion Designers were called upon to design clothes to help enforce the law and to boost morale during the war years. Well-known designers Edward Molyneux, Hardy Amies, and Norman Hartnell created thirty-four smart Utility Clothing designs, which bore the now famous Clothing Control Label CC41. The government issued a limited number of coupons, which women redeemed to buy these clothes.
Wealthy Americans accustomed to looking to Paris for their fashion needs were unable to do so during the war. As a result, a number of World War Il-era American designers started to come into their own by creating clothes that were more in tune with America's increasingly casual lifestyle. Women on both sides of the Atlantic were attracted to the new concept of sportswear. By the end of the war, more and more designers, manufacturers, factories, and retail establishments fed the building consumer demand for this new style of dressing. Fashion retailers and magazines, in particular, got behind the push for American fashion. Lord & Taylor was an active promoter of American fashion under Dorothy Shaver, president of the store from 1946 to 1959. Car-mel White Snow, American Vogue editor from 1929 to 1932 and later fashion editor for Harper S Bazaar from 1932 to 1957, was also credited with her instinctual fashion sense which often defined the casual American Look. By contrast, Paris was still favoring a more structured approach to clothes as epitomized, for example, by Christian Dior's New Look trend in 1947. While French couturiers such as Cristobal Balenciaga, Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Jeanne Lanvin, Jean Patou, Elsa Schiaparelli, Madeleine Vionnet, and Charles Frederick Worth would continue to influence the fashion scene for decades, designers from other countries, including the United States, would also strongly influence fashion.
By the 1950s, the fashion business exploded and new markets evolved thanks to the postwar baby boom and an increasing diversity of populations, especially in the United States. Although fashion trends continued to emanate largely from Europe, American designers such as Norman Norell and James Galanos strove to establish an "American haute couture." Moreover, thanks to their grasp of America's casual lifestyle, American designers such as Bonnie Cashin, Claire McCardell, Anne Klein, and Tina Leser became extraordinarily successful, viable competitors. During this period, Italian designers Emilio Pucci, Roberto Capucci, and the Fontana Sisters created the Italian Look.
Later, in the 1960s, Valentino Garavani rose to fame—and the Italian designers finally took their place on the world stage, second only to Parisian designers, in the 1970s. Most notable among these Italian designers were Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace, Gianfranco Ferre, Missoni, Ermenegildo Zegna, Franco Moschino, Krizia, Prada, and Guccio Gucci.
A new subculture began to form in the 1960s and gained during the coming decades; it took its inspiration from pop culture and lifestyle. Designers, in sync with the film and music industries, started looking to the streets for inspiration. Fashion trends were given names such as "beat," "mod," "hippie," "punk," "grunge," and "hip-hop." These new fashion trends echoed the thinking of the often-revolutionary street counterculture and events taking place in world history. During this time, the impact of Europe's "fashion dictatorship" began to wane.

Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. .

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