As seen at... The New Look party

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The Independent Online
The It girls of their day - including Vera Lynn and Princess Galitzine, a former Dior model - mingled with their Nineties counterparts and Forties fashion freaks on Tuesday at the Imperial War Museum in South London. It was the launch party for "Forties Fashion and the New Look", the museum's exhibition to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the New Look, the fashion created by Dior that dominated post war Europe for 20 years. Some guests wore their very own vintage Dior; others begged or borrowed an outfit for the night. "Where did you get that?" was probably the most oft-uttered phrase of an evening when there were as many couture exhibits on real legs as there were on dummies. Photographs by Ben Elwes

Princess Galitzine

Formerly Jean Danway, ex-Dior model, above left

The New Look influenced the whole world at the time. There's never been anything like it since. After the war, when everyone had been dreary for so long with uniforms and coupons, suddenly this incredible explosion of beauty was quite stunning. Of course some people resented it but on the whole I think everyone was cheered up. I got to wear it so I was very lucky. I kept quite a lot of the clothes and many of them are in the exhibition. I'm not particularly interested in fashion now, I'm running a library in St Petersburg. Regarding Galliano, let's be honest, he started as quite a serious tailor so he knows what's what. The rest is just publicity froth, which is fine because it's what's needed. Tonight I'm wearing a pre-Galliano red Dior jacket in the style of the New Look.

Sarah Reeves 24

Model, main picture

The dress I'm wearing is one of Dior's New Look dresses from the late Forties. It was made for Charlie Chaplin's wife, Oona.

Dame Vera Lynn 80

Former actress and singer

I rather liked the New Look. I was much slimmer in those days with a tiny waist which was great for those fitted jackets and flared skirts. After the war it was lovely to see all the nice fabrics coming back. I was in a musical called New Look Lynn and I had the dresses made in the style of the New Look. Today I follow fashion in the sense that I like to see what's going on, but the kind of fashion I love I really can't wear now. I'm not of the age.

Harry Lewis 82

Vera Lynn's husband and former manager, left

I remember the New Look very well. I think all the fashions were great, I can't say much about today. I wear suits mainly. When I'm at home I wear slacks. I'm afraid I don't know Galliano.

Pierre Cardin

Fashion designer, left

I first started with Christian Dior in 1946 when they opened the doors in Avenue Montaigne in Paris. I participated in the collection of 1947 and being here brings back pleasant memories. I have such great respect for Christian Dior, he was a friend. It is difficult for me to give my opinion on the Galliano collection because I am a very old man. If I was 20 I would probably love it because when I was 20 I was very eccentric but if I dressed like that now I would be ridiculous.

Anthony Price 52

Fashion designer, left

I wasn't really old enough to witness the impact of the New Look at the time but I know everything about it. I've read all there is to read. It was the most revolutionary fashion statement this century. People wanted to go out the next day and throw their clothes away. As an exercise in commercial design it was the best. It was like a number one hit album, it was beyond the Spice Girls. It took over Hollywood and changed the face of fashion for 20 years, right up until the Sixties and Mary Quant. I think what Galliano is doing now is fabulous, he has all the history of Dior to work with. Tonight I'm a tribute to Mr Dior, who used to wear waistcoats and jackets and hats.

Darcey Bussell

Principal artist, Royal Ballet, top right

I love the Forties fashion era, all those outfits are such classics. Being involved in the exhibition has been a lot of fun. I've done a lot of photo shoots in the costumes and so I have learnt a lot about the clothes. Tonight I'm in a Neil Cunningham dress.

Gordon Ayres 80

Social worker/Forties-style photographer, far right

The exhibition is very well conceived. I've always been interested in fashion and particularly this era. I'm wearing a 1940s herringbone wool suit, the shoes are French 1940s originals and the shirt is American rayon.

Pauline Bailey 26

Marilyn Monroe impersonator, right

I love the Forties era, I actually wear Forties-style clothing, even when I'm not dressed up as Marilyn. I also collect original 1940s hats and handbags. I'm wearing an original Forties top with my Galliano suit.

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