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Revisiting an Icon: The Christian Dior Bar Jacket

Christian Dior’s fashion mainstay, the Dior Bar jacket, celebrates 73 years.

When the Christian Dior Bar jacket emerged during the designer’s first ever show at 30 Avenue Montaigne in Paris back in 1947, it triggered a fashion revolution. This was during a more patriarchal time, a post-war era when women were only beginning to find their own voices and embrace their sensuality. Mr Dior’s Bar jacket was cinched at the waist to accentuate the hips and softened the shoulders, a homage to feminine curves.

The Dior Bar jacket at the spring/summer 1947 show.

The Dior Bar jacket at the spring/summer 1947 show.

The story goes that the Bar jacket was named as such for a bar at Plaza Athenee that Mr Dior used to frequent. While the name wasn’t exactly inspiring, the jacket itself was a bestseller and was frequently imitated and replicated by Dior’s competitors and peers. The designer himself would frequently update the Bar jacket in his other collections.

When the 21-year-old Yves Saint-Laurent became the artistic director of the house after Mr Dior’s passing in 1957, he too reworked the Bar jacket in his own image. The designer elongated the jacket and made the cinch at the waist less severe. Much like Mr Dior back in 1947, Saint-Laurent wanted to redefine the way women dressed for the time.

(Related: Revisit Dior’s show at Paris Fashion Week)

Since then, Dior’s successive artistic directors have interpreted the iconic Bar jacket in their own vision. Marc Bohan’s version had softer and more graceful silhouettes. Gianfranco Ferre turned the Bar jacket into a flamboyant architectural marvel. John Galliano’s was extravagant and bordering on the theatrical while Raf Simons turned excess on its head and simplified the shape of the Dior Bar jacket instead.

Cue the present day with Maria Grazia Chiuri now holding the artistic reins. She was the first ever woman to lead the house of Christian Dior, so it’s unsurprising that she has presented a variant of the cult Bar jacket in almost all of her collections.

Chiuri's Bar jackets for Autumn/Winter 2020.

Chiuri’s Bar jackets for Autumn/Winter 2020.

For Autumn/Winter 2020, Chiuri once again showcased yet another take of the jacket. This time, inspired by the powerful women of today, Chiuri added more masculine lines, checks and denim effects. And in a stunning display of her technical prowess, the seams of the jacket have vanished thanks to clever draping. It’s a testament to the know-how of the house’s atelier prowess and ability to continually re-invent itself for the era that it’s in. Mr Dior would be proud.