The Story Of Dior

The Story of Dior


T
he house of Christian Dior is not only a modern fashion giant but possesses an incredibly rich history and timeless designs. From the very beginning of its days in Paris to its gradual and steady expansion globally, this label has never stopped whisking people away with its innovative approach to fashion and magical collections.

Born in the seaside town of Granville on the coast of Normandy in 1905, he was the son of a wealthy fertilizer manufacturer and was one of five children. Aged five, he moved with his family to Paris. Although his parents had hopes of him becoming a diplomat, Dior was artistically inclined and began to sell his sketches on the street to make pocket money. Upon leaving school Dior took over a small art gallery which his father bought for him, where he and a friend sold work by artists including Pablo Picasso. He was forced to close the gallery in 1931, a year that included the deaths of both his older brother and mother and the financial collapse of his father’s business. Following the closing of his gallery, Dior began to make ends meet by selling his fashion sketches, and in 1935, landed a job illustrating the magazine Figaro Illustré. Several years later, Dior was hired as a design assistant by Paris couturier Robert Piguet. However, when World War II began the following year, Dior served in the south of France as an officer in the French army. At the end of his service in 1942, he began working for couturier Lucien Long, where he and Pierre Balmain were the primary designers.

In 1946 he founded the house of Christian Dior in Paris, backed by Marcel Boussac, a cotton-fabric magnate. Officially, the house of Dior considers 1947 to be the year of conception as that is when Dior showed his first collection. On February 12, 1947, Dior showed his debut collection, presenting the 90 different looks. Named “Corolle” and “Huit”, the lines were quickly christened the “New Look”, a phrase coined by US Harper’s Bazaar magazine editor Carmel Snow. The look consisted of a calf-length, full skirt, a cinched waist and fuller bust than had been seen since the turn of the century. The New Look line collection became revolutionary and influenced other designers and the fashion industry.

The house was inundated with orders and world-famous stars such as Rita Hayworth and Margot Fonteyn bought and wore pieces, raising Dior’s profile significantly. Dior was even invited to stage a private presentation of the collection for the British royal family – although King George V reportedly forbade the young princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, from wearing the New Look in case it set a bad example at a time when rationing was still in force. Christian Dior was known to be very superstitious, a quality which increased with age. Each collection included a coat named after his place of birth, Granville; in each show at least one model wore a bunch of his favorite flower, lily of the valley; and he never began a couture show without having consulted his tarot card reader.

Dior established a luxury ready-to-wear house in New York in 1948. It was the first of its kind. In the same year, he launched Dior Parfums – with Miss Dior being the first fragrance to launch, and Diorama launching the following year. In 1949, Dior was the first couturier to arrange licensed production of his designs. Having released the importance of the complete look – and that the New Look could not be successfully achieved without the correct Dior shoes, gloves and hat – Dior, together with business partner Jacques Rouët, licensed his name to a range of luxury accessories. Furs, stockings, ties and perfume were also manufactured in regional centers across the world, spreading his brand name quickly around the globe.  In 1951, Dior released his first book, Je Suis Couturier (I am a Couturier). In 1952, Christian Dior Models Limited was created in London. In 1953, The Christian Dior shoe line was launched with the help of Roger Vivier. By the end of 1953, the Dior Company, was firmly planted in Mexico, Cuba, Canada, and Italy. In 1954 the first Dior boutique was established.

In 1955 Dior opened the Grande Boutique and released the first Dior lipstick. In 1956 the house of Dior celebrated its 10th anniversary and by this time had sold 100,000 garments. This was the year that actress Ava Gardner had 14 Dior dresses made for the film The Little Hut. In 1957 Christian Dior appeared on the cover of Time magazine. Shortly after that Mr. Christian Dior died from his third heart attack while vacationing in Italy. Some 2,500 people attended his funeral, including all of his staff and famous clients led by the Duchess of Windsor. In an attempt to stabilize the label, Jacques Rouët appointed the then-21-year-old Yves Saint-Laurent as artistic director. In 1958 Laurent produced his first collection under the Dior label.

Saint Laurent remained in the position until he was conscripted into the army, during which time he was dismissed from Dior by Rouët and replaced by Marc Bohan. Bohan proved very successful as Saint Laurent’s replacement, defining a new era and new silhouette for Dior, the Slim Look, a more modern and svelte version of Dior’s iconic shape. Actress Elizabeth Taylor ordered 12 dresses from the Slim Look collection.

In 1963 the perfume Diorling was launched. In 1966 the male scent, Eau Sauvage, was released. In 1967 Bohan’s assistant, Philippe Guibourgé launched the first French ready-to-wear collection called Miss Dior. Bohan also opened the first Baby Dior store. In 1968 the Dior knit collection was established. During this year the Management of the Fashion Furs department was taken over by Frédéric Castet. In 1969 the first Christian Dior Cosmetics business was created and an exclusive line was launched. In 1970 Christian Dior house launched its first Christian Dior Homme line. In 1972 Christian Dior’s Diorella fragrance was released. In 1973 the first Christian Dior ready-to-wear fur collection was presented. In 1975 the “Black Moon” Christian Dior watch was released in collaboration with Benedom.  In 1979 the fragrance Dioressence was released.

In 1980 the men’s fragrance Jules is released. In 1984 the Dior label was purchased by Bernard Arnault. In 1985 the parfume Poison was launched. The owner, Bernard Arnault became the Chief Executive Officer, and Managing Director of the Dior Company. In 1989 Gianfranco Ferré replaced Marc Bohan. Ferré was head of design for Haute Couture, Haute Fourrure, Women’s Ready-to-Wear, Ready-to-Wears Furs and Women’s Accessories collection. Ferré was awarded the Dé d’Or for his first collection. A Christian Dior store was opened in Hawaii.

In 1990 Dior opened boutiques in New York City, Los Angeles and Tokyo. In 1991 fragrance Dune was launched. Later in 1992 Dior Homme was placed under the artistic vision and command of Patrick Lavoix. The same year the Miss Dior perfume was re-released. In 1995 The Dior Haute Couture was created into its own division called Christian Dior Couture. In 1997 John Galliano was appointed the new creative director to replace Ferré. In 1998 a second Dior boutique was opened is Paris. Victoire de Castellena became the head designer for Dior fine jewelry, and a fine jewelry boutique was opened in New York. In 1999 Dior’s fine jewelry boutique was also opened in Paris. The same year in October the fragrance J’adore was released. Galliano presented his spring/summer collection and with this collection came the famous saddlebags.

In 2002 Dior Homme boutique was opened in Milan. The men’s fragrance, Addict, was launched. In 2003 the cousin watch to the Chris 47 Aluminum, the Chris 47 Steel, was released. Victoire de Castellane, the head designer of fine jewelry at Dior, launched her own watch called Le D de Dior. This launch signified the inclusion of watches into the fine jewelry collections.  In 2004 a second flagship store was opened up in Ginza, Tokyo. Also an exclusive Dior Homme store was opened in Paris. This store carries the entire Homme collection.  In 2005 women’s fragrance, Miss Dior Chérie, and the men’s fragrance, Dior Homme, were launched. The Dior label celebrated the 13th anniversary of its watch collections. The house also celebrated the 100th birthday of founder Christian Dior. In honor of the masters birthday and exhibition called, Christian Dior: Man of the Century was held in the Dior Museum in Granville Normandy. John Galliano added to the excitement of a monumental year and created his Dior Christal watch, which combined steel and blue sapphires. In 2006 the Dior watch booth was dedicated to the Dior Canework. The pattern based on the Napoleon III chairs used in fashion shows, was created by Christian Dior himself. In 2012 Raf Simons took over for Galliano as creative director.

There are a lot of clothing brands as of today and a whole lot of new, talented designers who are responsible for changing fashion on nearly day-to-day basis. Christian Dior though, stands tall in the competition, still proving to be the most favorite brand with the fashionistas all over the world.