FRANCE: Dictator by Demand

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For hundreds of years, savants have grumbled and moralists thundered against the "private luxury" of fashion. But inexorably the tides of fashion have rolled on their way, now exposing a pleasant vista with a plunging neckline, then snapping it shut; now swelling bottoms into the massive promontories of the bustle, then strapping them down into the sleek foothills of the girdle, in an age-old and tireless coquetry with the male eye.

In the age of the ready-made and the copyist, private luxuries are now public domain. Because of the curious liaison Dior has wrought between the shrewd operators of Seventh Avenue and the damask-hung salons off the Champs Elyseées, U.S. women may deplore or applaud the plump little man from Normandy, but they cannot ignore him. The woman has not yet been born who, shopping for a new dress, asks for "something just like what I have on"—and men would not like it if she did. Few women have the social assurance to trust their own taste completely. Dior's great service is to raise a standard to which the faint of heart can repair. He points a way to be different, but not too different; different in a way which will be imitated and not laughed at. What woman could ask for more?

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