Anchor image: The Acacias suit from Dior’s Haute Couture Spring/Summer 1949 collection.
Image courtesy of Christian Dior. © Associations Willy Maywald/ADAGP, 2020
There are few icons in the world of fashion that have the ability to withstand the fading sands of time, and still remain an eternal vision of classicism and modernity today. One such icon is the Bar jacket from Dior.
Beyond its immediately-recognizable name, the Bar jacket is a testament to the power that good tailoring has when it comes to flattering the female form. Since it was first shown by Monsieur Dior himself in 1947, it has won over legions of loyal fans who count on the emphasized waistlines, the soft shoulder lines, and the hip-accentuating padding to play up their curves.
It is a jacket silhouette that transcends trends and reaches across generations — as evidenced by the numerous reiterations that have been created over the decades, as imagined by the house’s lineage of creative directors. Here, we have shortlisted some notable versions of the Bar jacket.
01 | Christian Dior
In the face of post-war Paris, Christian Dior’s 1947 Haute Couture collection featured a model in a softly-tailored suit that would reinvigorate the French capital’s reputation as the centre of the fashion world. The look featured a jacket with a waistline that was as thin as a liana stalk, and a skirt that sumptuously flared out to capture the fullness of a corolla flower.
Dubbed the “New Look”, it was first met with hostility by women of the working class who deemed it a show of extravagance in a sombre economy. Still, Dior persisted with his vision of returning femininity to women, and it paid off.
02 | Marc Bohan
As the creative head of the house between the years of 1960 to 1989, Marc Bohan approached his collections at Dior with a sense of reverence and respect for the legacy created by the brand’s founder, while seeking out relevance for the customer of the day.
In his Spring/Summer 1987 Haute Couture collection, Bohan’s Bar jackets explored the relationship between the original design and the look of the ’80s. One model wore a reproduction of the iconic Bar suit, whilst another showed an updated version that featured cropped sleeves and a soft hue of bubblegum pink.
03 | Gianfranco Ferré
Succeeding Bohan was Gianfranco Ferré, whose work was best characterised as an exploration of architecture through fashion. During his Spring/Summer 1991 Haute Couture show, Ferre took Dior’s “New Look” (and by extension, the Bar jacket as well) as the inspiration for his Forcément dress — which loosely translates to “necessary dress” in English.
The slanting shoulders, whittled waist, and padded hips were all present, but Ferré also included sculptural sleeves and opted for a structured skirt silhouette to define his design.
04 | John Galliano
Famously known for staging over-the-top shows that brought spectacle and fantasy back into fashion shows, John Galliano’s interpretations of the Bar jacket became known for their unabashed exploration of colour, texture and cut.
While he worked off the same base established by Christian Dior five decades earlier, Galliano’s work took on a life of their own as they came in variations that included an electric shade of bougainvillaea-pink or a coat that featured a Bar jacket-esque peplum.
05 | Raf Simons
In his tenure as creative director of Dior, Raf Simons found a way to combine the rich femininity of the house with his preference for minimalist design.
The fruition of this partnership resulted in a stunning exploration of cut and tailoring, best seen in Simons’ debut Fall/Winter 2012 Haute Couture collection for Dior. Amidst rooms covered from wall to wall in lush blooms, Simons riffed on the flattering curvature of the Bar jacket to inform everything from daytime suits to coats and dresses.
06 | Maria Grazia Chiuri
As the present creative driving force behind Dior’s womenswear line, Maria Grazia Chiuri has refocused her designs by offering customers wearability and a return to a more feminine look. Her designs take away uncomfortable details and releases the female body into a more forgiving silhouette that allows them to embrace a softer side of tailoring. This is best seen in her interpretations of the Bar jacket, which feature a fluidity that’s synonymous with Monsieur Dior’s original vision of the jacket.