The first pencil skirt was designed by Christian Dior as part of his “H-Line” collection of 1954. Dior had spent the previous three years moving away from his “New Look” which had dictated fashion from 1947 until 1950, with its tight waist and full skirts.
Dior named his collections with letters of the alphabet to reference to the changing silhouettes. We still use his term “A-Line” for the flared cut it describes, as in an A-Line skirt. The name “H-Line” referred to the silhouettes he was creating with parallel lines. With his “H-Line”, Dior shifted the emphasis from the waist to the hip, tailoring the skirt to curve over the hip and narrow towards the knee. This silhouette not only looked different it felt radically different to wear and encouraged women to walk with a “wiggle” – think Marilyn Monroe!
Since the Mid 50’s, the pencil skirt has become a staple of working wardrobes, with the hemline raising and lowering depending on the prevailing trends of the day. In the 1970’s Lycra became more widely used in fabric production adding, stretch and ‘recovery’ properties to both knitted and woven fabrics. This has led to skin-tight clothing that still allows the wearer ease of movement.
At The Maker’s Atelier we have sampled the stretch version of the Ultimate Pencil Skirt in many different fabrics, both knit and woven mixed with Lycra or elastane. When choosing a stretch fabric, check the amount of give; 20cms of fabric should stretch to 25cms and then return to shape when released. The fit should be snug over the hips but not so tight that it becomes unflattering. With the fabric’s stretch qualities, the skirt can then follow the line of the leg, without the need for a kick pleat; which gives a really clean silhouette. It looks great worn with a simple T-shirt or sweater or paired with our Shell or Drawstring Top.
For more on Dior’s collections there is an excellent article here.