Designer Profile – Christian Dior

Art & Lit Fashion

Who?
Christian Dior was – and still is – one of the biggest names in fashion. Born into prosperity in the seaside French town Granville, he eschewed his family’s hopes that he would become a diplomat and became an artist instead. On leaving school he opened a small art gallery with a friend, but after the collapse of his father’s control over his business he was forced to close the gallery and start working in fashion instead, joining the French fashion house Lucien Lelong in 1942. During the German occupation of France he dressed both his compatriots and, controversially, the wives of Nazi officers – even as his sister was being sent to a concentration camp for aiding the French Resistance. In 1946 he founded his fashion house – Christian Dior – which is a household name even today. Its first collection was entitled Corolle, which translates roughly as ‘circlet of flower petals’; this femininity, voluptuousness and delicacy has come to symbolise the Dior name. Nowadays Dior is synonymous with luxury and elegance, and has attracted celebrities including Natalie Portman, Eva Green, Marion Cotillard and the South Korean girl band Girls’ Generation as front women for their advertising campaigns. It has also expanded – now not only selling formal womenswear but casual womenswear, menswear, accessories, jewellery, beauty products and fragrances. The Dior name has been tarnished in the past year by the Galliano scandal – in which the former head designer of the company, John Galliano, was dismissed from his position after being arrested for making highly anti-Semitic remarks in a bar in Paris – but it seems that the label is moving on from this incident and will only continue from strength to strength.

Key Design Features
– an overtly feminine silhouette
– nipped in waists and billowing skirts
– delicate chiffon and silk
– old-school glamour
– reminiscent of the New Look of the 1940s and 1950s

Musical Equivalent
Édith Piaf

High-Street Equivalent
Karen Millen

He said…
‘I will only say now that elegance must be the right combination of distinction, naturalness, care and simplicity. Outside this, believe me, there is no elegance. Only pretension.’

We say…
A classy and elegant update to the polished original New Look, the Dior of today has become a symbol sophistication, high-quality and endurance. And which other fashion label can say they’ve not only been around for 60 years but also been mentioned in a Kanye West/Daft Punk song?

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