Christian Dior on a 2005 Romanian stamp
|Born||21 January 1905|
|Died||24 October 1957 (aged 52)|
|Resting place||Cimetière de Callian, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France|
|Alma mater||Sciences Po|
|Parent(s)||Maurice Dior |
|Relatives||Catherine Dior (sister)|
Françoise Dior (niece)
Christian Dior (French: [kʁistjɑ̃ djɔʁ]; 21 January 1905 – 23 October 1957) was a French fashion designer, best known as the founder of one of the world's top fashion houses, also called Christian Dior, which is now owned by Groupe Arnault. His fashion houses are now all around the world.
Christian Dior was born in Granville, a seaside town on the coast of Normandy, France. He was the second of five children born to Maurice Dior, a wealthy fertilizer manufacturer (the family firm was Dior Frères), and his wife, formerly Madeleine Martin. He had four siblings: Raymond (father of Françoise Dior), Jacqueline, Bernard, and Catherine Dior. When Christian was about five years old, the family moved to Paris, but still returned to the Normandy coast for summer holidays.
Dior's family had hoped he would become a diplomat, but Dior was artistic and wished to be involved in art. To make money, he sold his fashion sketches outside his house for about 10 cents each. In 1928, Dior left school and received money from his father to finance a small art gallery, where he and a friend sold art by the likes of Pablo Picasso. The gallery was closed three years later, following the deaths of Dior's mother and brother, as well as financial trouble during the Great Depression that resulted in his father losing control of the family business.
From 1937, Dior was employed by the fashion designer Robert Piguet, who gave him the opportunity to design for three Piguet collections. Dior would later say that 'Robert Piguet taught me the virtues of simplicity through which true elegance must come.' One of his original designs for Piguet, a day dress with a short, full skirt called "Cafe Anglais", was particularly well received. Whilst at Piguet, Dior worked alongside Pierre Balmain, and was succeeded as house designer by Marc Bohan – who would, in 1960, become head of design for Christian Dior Paris. Dior left Piguet when he was called up for military service.
In 1942, when Dior left the army, he joined the fashion house of Lucien Lelong, where he and Balmain were the primary designers. For the duration of World War II, Dior, as an employee of Lelong – who labored to preserve the French fashion industry during wartime for economic and artistic reasons – in attempts to preserve the fashion industry during the war, Dior designed dresses for the wives of Nazi officers and French collaborators, as did other fashion houses that remained in business during the war, including Jean Patou, Jeanne Lanvin, and Nina Ricci. His sister, Catherine (1917–2008), served as a member of the French Resistance, was captured by the Gestapo, and sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, where she was incarcerated until her liberation in May 1945. In 1947, he named his debut fragrance, Miss Dior in tribute to his sister.
The Dior fashion house
In 1946 Marcel Boussac, a successful entrepreneur known as the richest man in France, invited Dior to design for Philippe et Gaston, a Paris fashion house launched in 1925. Dior refused, wishing to make a fresh start under his own name rather than reviving an old brand. On 8 December 1946, with Boussac's backing, Dior founded his fashion house. The actual name of the line of his first collection, presented on 12 February 1947, was Corolle (literally the botanical term corolla or circlet of flower petals in English), but the phrase New Look was coined for it by Carmel Snow, the editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar. Dior's designs were more voluptuous than the boxy, fabric-conserving shapes of the recent World War II styles, influenced by the rations on fabric. He was a master at creating shapes and silhouettes; Dior is quoted as saying "I have designed flower women." His look employed fabrics lined predominantly with percale, boned, bustier-style bodices, hip padding, wasp-waisted corsets and petticoats that made his dresses flare out from the waist, giving his models a very curvaceous form.
Initially, women protested because his designs covered up their legs, which they had been unused to because of the previous limitations on fabric. There was also some backlash to Dior's designs due to the amount of fabrics used in a single dress or suit. Of the “New Look”, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel said the following, “Look how ridiculous these women are, wearing clothes by a man who doesn’t know women, never had one, and dreams of being one.” During one photo shoot in a Paris market, the models were attacked by female vendors over this profligacy, but opposition ceased as the wartime shortages ended. The "New Look" revolutionized women's dress and reestablished Paris as the centre of the fashion world after World War II.
In 1955, the 19-year-old Yves Saint Laurent became Dior's design assistant. Christian Dior later met with Yves Saint Laurent's mother, Lucienne Mathieu-Saint Laurent, in 1957 to tell her that he had chosen Saint Laurent to succeed him at Dior. She said at the time she had been confused by the remark, as Dior was only 52 at the time.
Christian Dior died while on holiday in Montecatini, Italy, on 24 October 1957. Some reports say that he died of a heart attack after choking on a fish bone. Time's obituary stated that he died of a heart attack after playing a game of cards. However, one of Dior's acquaintances, the Paris socialite Baron de Redé, wrote in his memoirs that contemporary rumor was that the heart attack had been caused by a strenuous sexual encounter. As of 2020, the exact circumstances of Dior's death remain undisclosed.
Awards and honors
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The Paul Gallico novella Mrs 'Arris Goes to Paris (1958, UK title Flowers for Mrs Harris) tells the story of a London charwoman who falls in love with her employer's couture wardrobe and decides to go to Paris to purchase herself a Dior ballgown.
- Var: Côte d'Azur, Verdon, by Dominique Auzias, Jean-Paul Labourdette, Nouvelles éditions de l'Université, Jan 1, 2010, pg 150
- Pochna, M-F. (1996). Christian Dior: The Man Who Made the World Look New p. 5, Arcade Publishing. ISBN 1-55970-340-7.
- Pochna, Marie-France (1996). Christian Dior : the man who made the world look new (1st English language ed.). New York: Arcade Pub. p. 207. ISBN 1559703407.
- Marly, Diana de (1990). Christian Dior. London: B.T. Batsford. p. 12. ISBN 9780713464535.
Dior designed three collections while at Piguet's, and the most famous dress he created then was the Cafe Anglais...
- Pochna, Marie-France (1996). Christian Dior : the man who made the world look new. Joanna Savill (trans.) (1st English language ed.). New York: Arcade Pub. pp. 62, 72, 74, 80, 102. ISBN 9781559703406.
- Grainger, Nathalie (2010). Quintessentially perfume. London: Quintessentially Pub. Ltd. p. 125. ISBN 9780955827068.
- Picken, Mary Brooks; Dora Loues Miller (1956). Dressmakers of France: The Who, How, and why of the French Couture. Harper. p. 105.
- Jayne Sheridan, Fashion, Media, Promotion: The New Black Magic (John Wiley & Sons, 2010), p. 44.
- Yuniya Kawamura, The Japanese Revolution in Fashion (Berg Publishers, 2004), page 46. As quoted in the book, Lelong was a leading force in keeping the French fashion industry from being forcibly moved to Berlin, arguing, "You can impose anything upon us by force, but Paris couture cannot be uprooted, neither as a whole or in any part. Either it stays in Paris, or it does not exist. It is not within the power of any nation to steal fashion creativity, for not only does it function quite spontaneously, also it is the product of a tradition maintained by a large body of skilled men and women in a variety of crafts and trades." Kawamura explains that the survival of the French fashion industry was critical to the survival of France, stating, "Export of a single dress by a leading couturier enabled the country to buy ten tons of coal, and a liter of perfume was worth two tons of petrol" (page 46).
- Sereny, Gitta (2002). The Healing Wound: Experiences and Reflections, Germany, 1938–2001. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 15–16. ISBN 0-393-04428-9.
- Palmer, Alexandra (Spring 2010). "Dior's Scandalous New Look". ROM Magazine. Royal Ontario Museum. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
- Pochna, Marie-France; Savill, Joanna (translator) (1996). Christian Dior : the man who made the world look new (1st English language ed.). New York: Arcade Pub. pp. 90–92. ISBN 9781559703406.
- Company History at Dior's website Archived 7 November 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- Grant, L. (22 September 2007). "Light at the end of the tunnel". The Guardian, Life & Style. London. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
- "Christian Dior – Fashionsizzle". fashionsizzle.com. Retrieved 2 November 2017.
- "Christian Dior". British Vogue. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
- In french : Grunebaum, Karine (30 January 2013). ""J'ai vu mourir Christian Dior" par Francis Huster". parismatch.com. Archived from the original on 18 November 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
- Waldman, Hb (November 1979). "Christian Dior". Design Museum, Dental student. 58 (3): 58–60. ISSN 0011-877X. PMID 399225. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
- "Time news". TIME. 4 November 1957. Retrieved 7 March 2008.
- von Rosenberg, Alexis (2005). Hugo Vickers (ed.). Alexis: The Memoirs of the Baron de Redé. Estate of the late Baron de Redé. ISBN 9781904349037.
- "1967 Film British Costume Design – Colour | BAFTA Awards". Awards.bafta.org. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
- "Awards – Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma". Academie-cinema.org. Archived from the original on 18 October 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2017.
- Kim, Soo-Young (18 June 2013). "The Complete History of Kanye West's Brand References in Lyrics". Complex. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
- Charleston, Beth Duncuff (October 2004). “Christian Dior (1905–1957)”. Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Based on original work by Harold Koda.
- Dior, Christian (1957). Christian Dior and I. New York: Dutton.
- Martin, Richard; Koda, Harold (1996). Christian Dior. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 978-0870998225.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Christian Dior.|
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Christian Dior|
- Photos of Dior and Samples of New Look Fashion
- "Interactive timeline of couture houses and couturier biographies". Victoria and Albert Museum.
-  Documentary film Christian Dior, The Man Behind The Myth
- Christian Dior at Chicago History Museum Digital Collections