Nineteen fifty-seven was the best of times and the worst of times for Christian Dior. He was celebrating 10 stellar years in the fashion business, and on this day in 1957, landed on the cover of Time magazine wielding an enormous pair of scissors, solemnly prepared to conquer the next textile. It was only the fifth time a fashion designer had graced the cover, a spot typically reserved for the most serious of politicians and businessmen.
But after 10 years in the business, Dior was at the top of his game. Having cornered 66 percent of the high fashion export market after introducing the New Look upon his debut in 1947, he could afford to sit back and sip a cognac at his mansion in Paris, his Fontainebleau farmhouse or Chateau Dior, his “humble” estate in Provence. It doesn’t get much better than that unless, of course, you drop dead, which he also did that same year. Dior died of a heart attack, either while playing cards or in a compromising position, if you will, depending on which story you prefer to believe.
Though the nine-page feature story in Time proclaimed the sexy Read More »
“In a machine age, dressmaking is one of the last refuges of the human, the personal, the inimitable. In a epoch as somber as ours, luxury must be defended inch by inch.” — French couturier Christian Dior, who opened his salon on this day in 1946. To read more fabulous Fashion Statements, click here.
The Nazis couldn’t destroy the French fashion industry, though not for lack of trying. When the Germans invaded Paris in 1940, the bad guys ransacked the headquarters of the French fashion syndicate, confiscated all of its archives and began making plans to transform Berlin into the world’s new fashion capital—those pilfered archives would come in handy—with Vienna serving as fashion’s secondary city. As president of the French fashion syndicate, couturier Lucien Lelong groveled to convince the Nazis that this was a lousy plan, but the Germans closed Madame Grès and Balenciaga anyway, and many other fashion houses shut their doors in anticipation of the worst. The remaining designers nervously gathered with aides, and in hushed tones discussed which sides they’d take. Louis Vuitton and Coco Chanel famously sided with the Nazis, with the latter even taking an enemy lover at Hotel Ritz Paris. But most houses were shuttered. Those who tried to make a comeback after Liberation struggled to stay afloat, let alone regain their former glory (Lelong among them). Fortunately, there were new kids in town to pick up the slack. Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior worked in Lelong’s atelier, and they’d grown weary of their boss’s tyrannical attitude and what they deemed inferior skills. The good friends considered opening a house together, but ultimately sought independence, and on this day in 1946, the House of Dior opened in an early 19th-century salon at 30 Avenue Montaigne Paris B. Read More »
“My dream is to save women from nature.”
—Christian Dior, French couturier, who died on this day in 1957. Photos: Left: demonstrating the Autumn/Winter 1953/54 short skirt length, by Linie Vivante. Right: Lucky in a Dior dress, 1955, by Walde Huth. To read more fabulous Fashion Statements, click here.
“The fashion house of Christian Dior is bestowing the ultimate glory on a 34-year-old Parisian designer named Marc Bohan,” trumpeted the New York Times. Ouch. For three years, that “ultimate glory” had belonged to a young wunderkind named Yves Saint Laurent, but at the time the announcement came on this day in 1960 that his golden needle was revoked, the then-24-year-old Saint Laurent was far away, losing his marbles in a French military hospital.
YSL had been named House of Dior’s chief designer at just 22 years old, becoming the youngest couturier in the world, when Christian Dior died three years earlier in 1957. But YSL at Dior was like trying to fit a circle into a square. In his first show for Dior on January 30, 1958, he ignored the traditional whale-boned corsets and cinched, ladylike silhouette. Saint Laurent ignored the waist completely and sent a girlish collection of trapeze dresses down the runway to the rapture of his audience. In July of 1960, in what would be his last collection for Dior, he broke further from the norm with his Beat collection, inspired by the arty Left Bank bohemians who couldn’t be any more Read More »