Christian Dior must have had trials during his short life, but he doesn’t appear the kind of gentleman to be stopped by the likes of wars, great depressions, lost family fortunes, or childhood dreams realized, and just as quickly snatched from within his grasp.
Born in Granville, France – a seaside town in Normandy, Christian’s Father was a fertilizer magnate, who thought Christian was destined to be a Diplomat. Christian had other plans. From a young age he expressed an interest in art, and asked for his Father’s backing in a Parisian Gallery that he was to open with a childhood friend. While his Father agreed – he insisted he keep the family name out of it. The gallery was a great success, showcasing artists including Picasso along side less well known artists of the time like Marc Chigall, and forming lifelong friends. The war, and the subsequent depression led to the loss of the family fortune, and the backing that Dior depended on to continue gallery operations, and it was forced to close.
Ever resilient, Dior simply went to work selling fashion sketches, eventually working for Robert Piguet in 1937 where he was allowed to include pieces of his own design in one of Piguet’s shows – they were well received.
After Dior’s military service was complete he returned to Paris to work for Lucien Lelong’s Fashion House. Together they struggled to keep fashion alive in war torn Paris, designing for the wealthy wives of Nazi soldiers. Dior credits Lucien for teaching him “the virtues of simplicity from which true elegance must come.” They remained friends and confidants throughout his life.
A brilliantly set stage helped to recreate the mystique of the time.
Dior opened his “House” in 1947 with the launch of his first show – Corelle – Circlet of Flower Petals. The collection was coined the “New Look” by the Editor-in-Chief, Carmel Snow and launched the brand which continues to thrive today. A consummate perfectionist that loved the female form, Dior made curvaceousness all the rage. A fortuitous clash of photography and fashion paved the way for a phenomenal pairing of artistic talents, exotic shoots, and the coupling of fashion and fashionable places that undoubtably enhanced the upward trajectory of the label.
This year – the 70th Anniversary of the House of Dior led to the exhibition from which I just returned at Les Arts Decoritifs.
CHRISTIAN DIOR, COUTURIER DU RÊVE
Over 300 gowns from his collection, miniature doll sized models, and toiles are on display through 7 January 2018. Book your ticket now. It was the single best museum exhibit I have ever seen, anywhere. Tiffany agreed. We could have spent all day in the museum setting off alarms that signal we were far too close to the dresses. Signal away
– I will never feel close enough until I have slipped one on and headed to the ball. The detailing, the beads, the fabrics, the folds, the genius, the glamour, it is all there. From frocks to hats, shoes, jewelry, bags, and a stunning photography collection that captures some of the very best in advertisements. The ode to starlets that wore his gowns and catapulted his name into the mainstream are beautifully displayed through film clips, and photographs, that have you spinning your head from one side of the display to the other, to first see the screen image that was created, and to then catch a glimpse of the real life confection, just over your shoulder, and through a throng of admirers, on the other side of the isle made me woozy with wonder and want.
Samples and sketches and created in miniature before the final piece is developed.
To think that it began with Dior holed up in his home, furiously sketching away, and then those sketches were turned over to the head seamstress – “Couturiere” that created the mock ups in the Atelier – the workshop – then presenting these to Dior, always with the same question….”have we achieved your vision for this piece Mr. Dior…thousands of hours can go into a single dress. The mock-ups are pieces of art in their own right. I would have walked right out of that exhibit in any one of those gauzy white creations – without a touch of color or a single embellishment owned one of the single most sublime creations that ever have I set my eyes upon.
Now hip hop. Pack that suitcase and book your ticket. This exhibit cannot be missed. J’adore Dior!