Outfits from 1950s inspire this year’s party season

26 October

As the party season nears an exhibition of elegant ball gowns and glittering cocktail dresses will open on Saturday 29 October at Provost Skene's House, Aberdeen.

Jingle Bell Rock 1950s Partywear highlights the story of fashion and how it changed dramatically after World War II.

Christian Dior, a relatively unknown French designer, introduced his first major couture collection in February 1947 which featured designs that were in complete contrast to the austere clothing worn during the war years.

The style was coined the 'New Look' by Carmel Snow, the editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar, and was characterised by soft shoulders, a wasp-waist and extravagant full-flowing skirts. Masses of fabric, in some cases up to 40 metres, were used to create the skirt of one dress. Finishing touches such as lace trims, sequins, beads and embroidery was added to garments to create a glamorous and opulent finish.

With the end of clothes rationing in 1949 the early 1950s saw a revival of femininity and a demand for dresses to suit every occasion from picnics and luncheons to cocktail parties and balls.

The 1950s also saw growth in the ready-to-wear industry and the use of man-made materials, which meant that luxurious looking garments could be produced at a fraction of the cost giving ordinary women the opportunity to buy designer inspired evening wear.

This was also the decade of the cocktail hour; before dinner it became popular to relax with a Martini or Manhattan. Cocktail parties became a fashionable way to entertain friends and the correct outfit was required in the form of cocktail dresses and lounge suits.

Fashion from this period was feminine, figure-hugging and glamorous and there was no better time to show off the latest trends than in the festive season when dances and parties were in full swing.

Aberdeen City Council, Museums and Galleries, curator (decorative art) Kate Gillespie, said: "With the party season fast approaching, get into the festive mood by visiting this display of sparkling ball gowns, cocktail dresses and accessories.

"Fashion from the 1950s was feminine, figure-hugging and glamorous and designers still frequently use this decade as a source of inspiration for the outfits we see on the catwalks and on the high street today."

The exhibition runs until 07 January 2012.