Moscow Exhibition 2011 Christian Dior

Christian Dior – 6 Interesting Facts

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Christian Dior was a French fashion designer known for his couture that revived the industry during the post-war era. Throughout his career, his creations rose to the forefront of fashion as they reintroduced luxury in women’s clothing. A talented designer and a shrewd businessman, he established a fashion house that continues to be very successful at present. Behind the legendary name, here are the following facts:

1. Despite his family’s wealth, Dior had humble beginnings as designer.

  • He was born the second of five children to a wealthy family. His father owned a highly successful fertilizer business.
  • After the Great Depression and the collapse of his father’s business, Dior supported himself by selling fashion illustrations worth 10 cents each.
Dior Storefront LANDMARK Mall Hong Kong Christian Dior
A Dior Storefront at the LANDMARK Mall in Hong Kong

2. He always had a passion for art and design.

  • Dior initially wanted to be an architect, but followed his father’s wish for him to be a diplomat. He studied political science at École des Sciences Politiques.
  • After graduation, he opened a gallery with money his father lent him. It featured works by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Max Jacob, and Jean Cocteau.
Dorothy Emms 1952 Christian Dior
Model Dorothy Emms with Christian Dior, 1952

3. Dior continued working as a couturier during World War II.

  • During the German occupation of France, he worked under Lucien Lelong to dress the wives of French and Nazi collaborators. This preserved the fashion industry in Paris during difficult times.
  • His younger sister Catherine was a member of the French Resistance sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp. She was released and Christian paid homage to her by naming his debut fragrance Miss Dior.
Eva Peron at Colon Opera House Christian Dior
Eva Peron wearing a Dior gown at Colon Opera House in Buenos Aires

4. His creations were a rebuttal to the war’s rationing on materials.

  • Dior’s debut collection consisted of 90 different looks and came in two lines named “Corolle” and “Huit.” The fashion press christened his designs as the “New Look.”
  • The dresses featured full bell-shaped skirts, bare rounded shoulders, and cinched waists. The average piece consumed 20 yards of fabric.
Moscow Exhibition 2011 Christian Dior
Christian Dior gowns on display at the Moscow Exhibition in 2011

5. Dior’s designs were challenged by many women.

  • Feminists argued the New Look was oppressive, requiring restrictive garments such as the corset, crinoline, and padding to create the proper silhouette.
  • Perhaps Dior’s only true rival was Coco Chanel whose clothes were designed to be comfortable, elegant, and easy to wear. She described male couturiers as “Fifties Horrors” due to the way they “tortured” women’s bodies.
Zémire Evening Gown circa 1950 Christian Dior
The Zémire evening gown with the balloon shape popularized by Dior circa 1950s

6. He died after ten short years of work in the fashion industry.

  • Dior had a fatal heart attack while on vacation in Italy. Some speculated it was triggered by choking on a fish bone, while an acquaintance wrote it may have been due to intense sexual exertion.
  • He had chosen his assistant Yves Saint Laurent to succeed him. Dior expressed his wish to Saint Laurent’s mother, leaving her confused because he was only 52 at the time. Dior died shortly after and Saint Laurent became artistic director at 21.
Musée Christian Dior Granville France
The quaint Musée Christian Dior in Granville, France

Despite his brief stint in the business, Christian Dior has helped in keeping Paris as one of the fashion capitals in the world. His creations, though opulent in that era, were post-war cultural symbols that represented “youth, hope, and the future” for many.

References

Biography.com
Encyclopedia.com
Vogue.co.uk

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