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Christian Dior - Early life, The “New Look”, The Dior years, Dior without

house couture dior’s clothes

Christian Dior knew from an early age and throughout his years in school that he had a passion for the arts. Though his family wished for him to become a diplomat, he convinced his father to loan him the money to open an art gallery in France. Throughout the 1930s, Dior earned his living creating sketches for various Haute Couture designers. A fabric magnate, Boussac, became enthralled with Dior’s creations using multi-layered techniques with a multitude of fabrics. Christian Dior New York, Inc.

The “New Look”

The “New Look” was a phrase coined by Carmel Snow, Harpers Bazaar’s notorious editor-in-chief. This look was invigorating to fashionistas, hugging the curves more than the shapeless clothes of recent decades. Dior’s look utilized percale and petticoats along with boned bustiers and tightly-bound waists with padded hips to create an hourglass shape for his models. His gowns changed women’s clothes forever and cemented Paris’ hold on the fashion world.

The Dior years

Jacques Rouët was the man behind the house of Dior, building up sales with his flare for business. With old Paris couture houses making clothes for private clients, there was an open door for Rouët to capitalize on the publicity Dior received for the New Look. He created a Dior perfume called Miss Dior, started a fur subsidiary and a ready-to-wear store on the famed Fifth Avenue in New York.

Christian Dior was also a talented businessman who introduced the royalty payment system to fashion after a US hosiery company negotiated for the rights to manufacture Dior stockings. Dior did have the occasional “crisis” with his conservative clients who boycotted a suit called the “Jean-Paul Sartre” named for the radically-minded philosopher. The designer decided to stick with safer names for his future creations.

Providing Dior with unheard of support structure were Raymonde Zehnmacker, Jacques Rouët and Suzanne Luling who worked with him on various collections. Twice a year, haute couture shows were given in Paris, filling some 2,500 seats with people eager to see the new collections. Most of the clients were North American socialites, stars, and buyers from department stores seeking rights to particular designs to be created in-house. Even American-elite flocked to the Dior boutiques;Mrs. John F. Kennedy bought a pink silk-dupioni gown designed by Guy Douvier for Christian Dior.

Adhering to a strict commercial formula, Dior’s collections were always one-third innovative, one-third classical and one-third adaptive. Now wealthy, Dior purchased an old mill in Fountainbleu and a flower farm at Montaroux where he could spend time with his beloved dog and immerse himself in his love of all things artistic. Also known for his love of gardening, Dior decorated at least one model with flowers. Eccentric at times, Dior would consult a tarot card reader prior to every couture show.

As the most illustrious couture house in Paris, Dior attracted the most talented apprentices. The shy novice Saint Laurent made his home in the feminine atmosphere of the Dior house creating a multitude of pieces for the 1957 collection. After the fittings were completed, Dior retreated to a spa in Montecatini in northern Italy in hopes of losing weight to impress the new love in his life. Just ten days later, while at dinner, Dior died from a heart attack.

Dior without Christian Dior

Just weeks following Dior’s burial, Jacques Rouët announced a new plan for the house of Dior. It was created in only nine weeks by 21 year-old Yves Saint Laurent and though the clothes were as beautifully shaped as Dior’s, they had a more wearable design. Enraged by what he saw as too inventive, Marcel Boussac, voiced his displeasure with the radical, young designer and when Saint Laurent was called upon to join the French army, the house of Dior did not interfere. John Galliano was appointed chief designer of Christian Dior in 1996 after the company was acquired by the luxury goods group LVMH. Dior has opened multiple stores throughout the United Sates including San Francisco, Las Vegas, Houston, Beverly Hills and their flagship boutique in New York.

Christian, Emile (Joseph; aka “Boot-mouth”) [next] [back] Christian, Charlie (actually, Charles)

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