A little more than 70 years old… but already a legend in the world of fashion, we bring to you Christian Dior!
Rarely, does a brand gain the status of a classic icon in such a short span of time. Rarely, if ever, does a brand turn around the economy of an entire region. Rarely, does a brand create a product line that becomes the darling of both the hoi polloi and the elite… and that brand, ladies and gentlemen, is none other than Christian Dior.
Supremely creative, and prodigiously
talented, the founder of this renowned couture house was born in 1905 in the small town of Granville in Normandy, France. Completely uninterested in the family business, Christian Dior’s artistic sensibilities were indulged to the hilt by his father who let him open an art gallery where he exhibited the works of the likes of Pablo Picasso.
Unfortunately, a family financial crisis during the Great Depression of 1930 put an end to this art gallery.
Not one to be daunted, Christian subsisted by selling his clothing sketches to various fashion houses. Fate however had other plans – World War II broke out and the master designer was conscripted into the army. 1942 saw the end of his stint in the army and the beginning of a truly glorious reign in the world of fashion.
He quickly joined the house of Lucien Lelong as Chief Designer along with Pierre Balmain. Talent attracts more talent – it was during this time that another fashion luminary worked with Dior – Pierre Cardin, whose name needs no introduction. In 1946, Marcel Boussac, the richest man in France at the time, recognised Dior’s remarkable talent and provided Christian with the financial backing to set up his very own couture house.
And The First Collection Is Out!
The first clothing collection comprising 90 pieces was released in 1947, a collection that was not only a stupendous success for Christian, but also put Paris back on the fashion map of the world.
That first collection created history in more ways than one…dress after dress wowed the audience even as Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief Carmel Snow reportedly exclaimed, “It’s such a new look!” The term ‘New Look’ soon became associated with Dior’s signature shape characterised by a below-mid-calf length, full-skirt, large bust, and small waist.
The post-war fabric restriction did nothing to stop Dior from using 20 yards of fabric in his dresses – an extravagance at the time. The wildly popular Dior perfumes range was launched in 1948. By 1949, Dior business made up 75% of France’s fashion revenues and a whopping 5% of the total French exports. In 1950 the brand put into action major expansion plans and branched into accessories like neckties, hosiery, furs, hats, gloves, handbags, jewellery, lingerie, and scarves. The licensing program for these accessories was another first in the fashion industry on the whole, a trend that is still followed by several top couture houses.
The brand was a huge hit overseas and by 1953, Dior had established stores in New York, London, Mexico, Cuba, Canada and Italy. By 1956, more than 100,000 dresses had been sold…an amazing achievement by any standards.
Hollywood recognition added more feathers to the Dior cap – Christian Dior exclusively designed Marlene Dietrich’s dresses in the Alfred Hitchcock film ‘Stage Fright’ in 1950, and actress Ava Gardner had 14 dresses created for her in 1956 by ace designer for the Mark Robson film ‘The Little Hut’.
The Legacy Of The Creator
While the Dior fashion express ran full steam ahead, the man behind the brand unfortunately went too soon. In 1957 a heart attack took him away from the world of fashion at the young age of 52 – an irreplaceable loss.
The brand was left rudderless for a while, and shutting down a major portion of the operations was on the anvil, until the French Chamber of Couture and the Government intervened – the House of Dior was too vital to the survival and growth of the French fashion industry.
Yves Saint Laurent, another soon-to-be icon in high fashion took over, and the brand began to get its bearings back. Laurent, in fact had been handpicked by Dior himself, to take over the reins of the brand once he himself retired. YSL rose up to the challenge of carrying on the Dior legacy. His very first collection after Dior’s death was a resounding success, and he was even hailed as a national hero.
Designer Marc Bohan replaced Laurent, and further reinstated the public’s faith in the Dior brand. His clothing was described as ‘conservative and elegantly wearable’ and was loved by high society figures including style diva Elizabeth Taylor who ordered 12 dresses from Bohan’s ‘Slim’ collection.
Dior haute couture also went on to be worn by such celebrities like Mountbatten’s daughter, the Princess of Monaco and others at Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s lavish royal wedding. In 1989, Gianfranco Ferré was made Chief Designer, and later in 1996, John Galliano took over the design department of Dior. 1998 saw the launch of the Dior Haute Joiallerie collection with the eccentric and supremely talented Victoire De Castallene as Chief Designer.
While Marion Cotillard, Jude Law and Charlize Theron have featured prominently in Dior advertisements, other Hollywood stars like Lindsay Lohan, Jared Leto, Nicole Kidman, Brad Pitt, Mick Jagger, Demi Moore, Anne Hathaway and the like proudly flaunt their Dior clothes and accessories. Dior’s luxurious products go beyond clothing and accessories.
With style and quality whose appeal transcends generations, Dior truly is a legend.
Dior eyewear speaks of taste, elegance and luxury like no other.
Unveiled at the Spring/Summer 2020 fashion show, the 30Montaigne sunglasses boast a bold style characterized by a square oversized shape. The acetate frame with a tortoiseshell pattern is adorned with a functional logo in gold-finish metal. A statement frame for a style that is unmistakably Dior.
The DiorSoStellaire4 sunglasses complete the DiorSoStellaire line with a feminine butterfly shape. The frame in graded blue acetate boasts a rounded structure, echoing the distinctive round bridge, along with a subtle gold-finish ‘CD’ signature featured on the temples.
As feminine as they are refined, the DiorSociety1 sunglasses feature an oversized butterfly shape. The delicate workmanship of the gold-finish metal studs around the rim of the lenses lends the model a touch of sophistication. The graded lenses transitioning from blue to pink round off the model to perfection.