Hi guys, today we’re continuing the ‘The Story of…’ series. Last time we talked about Coco Chanel https://delaylable.com/2020/09/02/the-story-of-coco-chanel/ . Today we are talking about Christian Dior, the founder of the famous Christian Dior fashion house that I absolutely adore.
So, let’s start. Christian was born in a small village on the coast of Normandy, France. He had 4 brothers and when he was around 5 years old him and his family moved to paris, while they still went to the Normandy coast in the summers. While his family wished for him to become a diplomat, he had other ideas. He wanted to become involved in art, so he sold his fashion sketches outside his house for around 10 cents to make some money. When he left school in 1928, his father gave him money to finance a small art gallery, where he and his friend sold art by the likes of Pablo Picasso. After Christian’s mother and brother’s deaths, three years later, with the contribution of the financial problems during the Great Depression when his father lost control of the family business, the gallery closed.
Dior was employed by Robert Piguet in 1937, where he was given the opportunity to design three of Piguet’s collections. He also said ‘Robert Piguet taught me the virtues of simplicity through which true elegance must come.’ While he was working for Robert he met and worked alongside Pierre Balmain, and wa succeeded as house designer by Marc Bohan, who later became house of design for Christian Dior Paris. He left Piguet after he was called for military serice.
After Dior left the army, he started working for Lucien Lelong, in 1942, where he and Balmain where the primary designers. During WW II, Dior was designing dresses for the wifes of Nazis officers and French collaborators – in attempt to preserve the fashion industry, just like a few other fashion houses like Nina Ricci, Jean Patou and Jeanne Lanvin. Catherine, his sister, who served as a member of the French Resistance, was captured by the Gestapo and sent to Ravensbruk concentration camp, where she was kept until the liberation in May 1945. Christian Dior, later named his first fragrance Miss Dior named after heras tribute in 1947.
In 1946, Marcel Boussac, known as the richest man in France and a successful entrepreneur, invited DIor to design for a fashion house founded in 1925 called Philippe and Gaston, but he refused saying he wants to start fresh under his own name. On the 8th of October 1946, with the help of Bussac, Dior founded his fashion house. The real name of his first collection was Corolle, but the phrase New Look was coined for it by Carmel Snow, editor in chief at Harper’s Bazaar. He was a master at designing silhouettes, he is quotes as saying ” I have designed flower women”. His designes were recognized for the wasp-waisted corsets and percale, boned, bustier- style bodices that gave the women a very curvaceous form.
Initially, the women, used to shorter dresses because of the limitations of fabric during the war, protested against the fact that his designs were covering the legs. The amount of fabric used in his dresses and suits created some backlash. Coco Chanel commented on the “New Look” saying: ‘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 stopped after wartime shortages ended. Dior’s collection “New Look” revolutionized women’s dress and reestablished Paris as center of the fashion world after World War II.
Yves Saint-Laurent, 19 at the time, became Dior’s assistant in 1955. Dior later met with Yves mother in 1957 to tell her he had chosen him to succeed him at Dior.
Christian Dior died while on holiday in Italy, on October 1957. Most reports say he died of a heart attack, but what caused it is still left to speculation.
Hope you enjoyed. Let me know who you think I should write the next post about. Have a great day,