10 Things You Didn’t Know About Christian Dior
A prominent figure in the history of fashion, Christian Dior revolutionized the fashion industry with his distinctive design aesthetic and innovative approach to haute couture.
A prominent figure in the history of fashion, Christian Dior revolutionized the fashion industry with his distinctive design aesthetic and innovative approach to haute couture. His eponymous fashion house, founded in 1946, quickly soared to international acclaim with the introduction of the ‘New Look’, a style characterized by cinched waists and voluminous skirts. Beyond the ‘New Look’, there is much more to discover about the man who redefined post-war fashion and established one of the world’s leading luxury brands. In this article, we delve into ten things you may not know about Christian Dior, offering a deeper insight into the life, inspirations, and lasting impact of this remarkable designer.
Before embarking on his journey in the fashion industry, Christian Dior had a keen interest in art. Born into a wealthy family in Granville, France, in 1905, Dior moved to Paris at the age of five. In his early years, Dior opened an art gallery, which displayed works by artists like Pablo Picasso. However, the Great Depression in the late 1920s led to the collapse of his gallery.
Nevertheless, Dior’s passion for art remained undeterred. This appreciation for the arts greatly influenced his approach to design. The creative influence of art on Dior’s work can be seen in the fluid lines and shapes he used in his fashion collections, as well as the artistic themes he often incorporated.
Despite his artistic leanings, Dior’s family had different aspirations for him. His father, a successful fertilizer manufacturer, hoped that Christian would become a diplomat. Dior was sent to the École des Sciences Politiques in Paris to study political science, fulfilling his parents’ wishes.
However, Dior’s passion lay elsewhere. Upon finishing his studies, he served a short stint in the military before stepping into the world of fashion, first as a pattern cutter and then as a designer. Despite his family’s initial disapproval, Dior remained resolute in following his dreams, demonstrating his commitment and dedication to fashion.
World War II was a difficult period for many, including Dior. He was called for military service but was demobilized after France’s armistice with Germany in 1940. He then worked for fashion designer Lucien Lelong, producing clothes for the wives of Nazi officers and French collaborators.
Despite these challenging circumstances, the war years played a crucial role in shaping Dior’s fashion sensibilities. The scarcity of resources during the war gave him a deep appreciation for luxury, which later became a defining aspect of his brand.
The year 1947 marked the debut of Christian Dior’s first collection, which introduced what would come to be known as the ‘New Look’. This groundbreaking fashion aesthetic was characterized by cinched waists, voluminous skirts, and an overall emphasis on an hourglass silhouette. It was a direct departure from the austere, practical styles that had dominated during the war years.
The ‘New Look’ revolutionized post-war fashion, making Dior an overnight sensation in the fashion world. It signified a return to opulence and glamour, with Dior’s designs embodying a new era of femininity and elegance in fashion.
Following the success of the ‘New Look’, Dior rapidly expanded his fashion empire. He ventured into furs, jewelry, and handbags, and in 1947, he introduced the Miss Dior perfume, named after his sister Catherine.
By the 1950s, Christian Dior’s brand had grown into a global luxury fashion powerhouse, with licensees across the world producing Dior merchandise. This rapid expansion showcased Dior’s business acumen, transforming his brand into a symbol of French elegance and refinement worldwide.
Christian Dior was known for being superstitious. He often consulted his astrologer before making decisions, and his collections frequently featured talismanic symbols. He also carried a cluster of lucky charms with him, believing they brought him good fortune.
Dior’s superstition was reflected in his designs as well. He often included lily of the valley, his lucky flower, in his collections. Whether in the form of embroidery, print, or even perfume, this motif became a symbol of the Dior house.
Dior’s untimely death in 1957 at the age of 52 left a significant void in the fashion industry. However, his fashion house, Dior, continued to thrive under the guidance of his successors. The first of these was a young Yves Saint Laurent, who took the helm at the tender age of 21.
The lineage of designers at Dior, from Marc Bohan and Gianfranco Ferré to John Galliano, Raf Simons, and Maria Grazia Chiuri, the current creative director and the first woman to hold the position, have each brought their unique visions to the house while honoring Dior’s legacy.
Christian Dior was an admirer of architecture, a fascination that greatly influenced his approach to design. He once said, “Haute couture is like a symphony of craftsmanship. It must lift you to another level.” This was reflected in his meticulous attention to detail and his structural designs, which transformed the female silhouette.
Dior’s architectural approach was also reflected in the construction of his garments. He emphasized craftsmanship and was known for his structured designs that manipulated fabrics to enhance the body’s contours, showcasing his innovative spirit.
Dior had a deep appreciation for gardens, a passion nurtured during his childhood in Normandy, where his mother was a keen gardener. This love of nature and flowers became a recurrent theme in Dior’s collections, with many designs incorporating floral motifs.
Dior’s fondness for gardens also extended to his own homes, particularly his estate in Granville, which boasted a beautiful rose garden. The influence of gardens on Dior’s designs highlighted his appreciation for natural beauty and his ability to incorporate it into his work.
While Christian Dior’s life was cut short, his impact on fashion has been long-lasting. The ‘New Look’ he introduced in the 1940s continues to be a significant influence in fashion today. Moreover, the house of Dior remains one of the most prestigious fashion brands in the world, its designs embodying the elegance and sophistication that Dior championed.
The legacy of Christian Dior serves as a testament to his pioneering spirit, his commitment to beauty and elegance, and his exceptional talent. His unique vision reshaped the fashion industry, leaving an indelible mark that continues to inspire designers around the world.