Fashion Houses In The 1950′s

1950s Designers

Text by Ashley Kane.

In the post-war 1950′s, high style and fashion returned with the help of these important designers

Christian Dior

Responsible for dramatically changing the style of the 1950s, Dior created the “new look” which used lots of fabric and exaggerated the hourglass shape of the female figure. The new look was in direct contrast to the frugal and plain styles during the war, but women and the fashion industry embraced the move back to glamour.

Cristóbal Balenciaga

Though finding glamour and drama as important as Dior, Balenciaga went in the opposite direction in his silhouettes, making them sleeker and broadening the shoulders and removing emphasis on the waist. This shape gave way to the sack dresses and tunics that became popular in the next decade.

Pierre Balmain

Balmain’s focused on femininity and elegance, creating the quintessential French style of the 1950s.

Charles James

James was most well known for his spectacular gowns, which were often copied for prom and evening wear, and featured intricate constructions and unique color combinations.

Jaques Fath

Fath had a less severe take on the “new look”, with softer hourglass curves and plunging necklines. His designs showed more skin than his contemporaries making him a favorite of the younger and more daring.



The Fender Electric Guitar

For more than four decades, Fender electric guitars and amplifiers have had a tremendous influence on the way the world composes, plays and listens
to music. While guitarists in the early part of this century played country, folk or blues on acoustic guitars, in the 1930’s, jazz musicians experimented
with amplifying traditional hollow-body guitars so they could play with other
instruments at the same sound level.

In the 1940’s, a California inventor named Leo Fender had made some custom guitars and amplifiers in his radio shop. Eventually, Leo would create the world’s very first instrument amplifiers with built-in tone controls.
More importantly, though, was Leo’s vision of better guitar. With his knowledge of existing technologies, he knew he could improve on contemporary amplified hollow-body instruments . . . and improve upon them, he did. In 1951, he introduced the Broadcaster, the prototype solid-body guitar that would
eventually become the legendary Telecaster®.

The Tele®, as it became affectionately known, was the first solid-body electric Spanish-style guitar ever to go into commercial production. Soon to follow the Tele were the revolutionary Precision Bass® guitar in 1951, and the Stratocaster® in

Surf Culture in the 50’s & 60’s

Beautiful beaches, fast cars, and gorgeous women. This was the image associated with California during the 60’s. After WWII, California’s population grew by more than 10 million. Major magazines like Life and Newsweek promoted life in California by calling it “unassuming and carefree” with “plenty” of houses and a “wide open” job market.


Movies like “Slippery When Wet,” “Barefoot Adventure,” “Beach Party,” and “Bikini Beach” also promoted California’s “surf image.” But the biggest aspect of the surf culture was the music. The surf sound originated when Dale of the
Del-tones and Leo Fender, creator of Fender guitars, teamed up to develop an amplifier that would give the fuzzy surf sound. In 1961 “Let’s Go Trippin'” was released by the Del-Tones. This was the first surf song. Soon after songs like “Wipeout,” “Surfin’ Safari,” “Pipeline,” “and “Surfin’ USA” brought the surf culture to the world.

There were two different types of surf music. There were songs with vocals by groups like the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean, and then there were intrumentals. The instrumentals usually had extended electric guitar solos. “Pipeline” by Dale and the Del-Tones, and “Walk Don’t Run” by the Ventures are good examples of
instrumental surf songs. Chuck Berry was a big influence on the surf sound. Jan and Dean used his guitar riffs in two of their songs “Surf City” and “Dead Man’s Curve.” The Beach Boys also used Chuck Berry’s songs in their music.

The Art Of Gil Elvgren

Gillette A. Elvgren attended University High School. After graduation he began studying art at the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts. He subsequently moved to Chicago to study at the American Academy Of Art. He graduated from the Academy during the depression at the age of twenty-two. Elvgren joined the stable of artists at Stevens and Gross, Chicago’s most prestigious advertising agency. He became a protegé of the talented artist, Haddon Sundblom.

Elvgren was a classical American illustrator. He was a master of portraying the all-American feminine  ideal  but he wasn’t limited to the calendar pin-up industry. He was strongly influenced by the early “pretty girl” illustrators, such as Charles Dana Gibson, Andrew Loomis, and Howard Chandler Christy.Other influences included the Brandywine School founded by Howard Pyle.

In 1937, Gil began painting calendar pin-ups for Louis F. Dow, one of America’s leading publishing companies, during which time he created about 60 works. Around 1944, Gil was approached by Brown and Bigelow, a firm that still dominates the field in producing calendars and advertising specialties. He was associated with Brown and Bigelow from 1945 to 1972.

Elvgren was a commercial success. Elvgren lived in various locations, and was active from the 1930s to 1970s. His clients ranged from Brown and Bigelow and Coca-Cola to General Electric and Sealy Matress Company. In addition, during the 1940s and 1950s he illustrated stories for a host of magazines, such as The Saturday Evening Post and Good Housekeeping.

1959 Fender Musicmaster

An all original Fender Musicmaster with the original hard case. This guitar was produced as a student model with a single pickup and a short scale neck. It has a gold anodised pickguard and the original Kluson Deluxe machine heads. This example (S/N 31314) exhibits extensive wear~a well-loved guitar in its day. A lovely example of Rock ‘n’ Roll history made the very year Buddy Holly died.