BY FARID CHENOUNE
Dior has celebrated its 60th year as a couture house by staging a massive haute couture show at the Palace of Versailles and launching a beautiful book. And what could be more fitting than a home known for excess playing host to a designer – and a fashion house – drenched in decadence. Christian Dior presented his first collection to a bleak, post-war Paris in 1947. Dior’s collection was pronounced “The New Look” and made him a star. This illustrated book is based entirely on documents and photographs from the House of Dior, including 150 of its most beautiful haute couture dresses by Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferre and John Galliano.
On this article I preferred to show some of the intimacy photographs of a time when Dior himself supervized every detail of his enterprise, and created a team of devoted collaborators and a large atelier of adoring seamstresses. He not only drew every dress himself but also fitted most of his clients, among whom were Marlene Dietrich, Ingrid Bergman and the Duchess of Windsor.
On the book you could see the famous René Gruau’s sketches for the House of Dior (read also my previous post about his work) that could be a great reminder of what the brush, pen and ink achieved before the camera took over. What set Gruau apart from his peers is that much of his best work was done for promotional and marketing purposes for House of Dior.Celebrity models from Suzy Parker to Kate Moss are immortalized in Dior by fashion photography legends from Irving Penn to Nick Knight.
This definitive anthology of one of the world’s foremost couture houses captures the ambiance, creativity, and fashion of each era. An added bonus: an appendix of the house’s 120 Haute Couture collections. This book celebrates the glorious days when haute couture was about elegance rather than rank sensationalism.
About the Author
A professor of liberal arts, Farid Chenoune is a fashion historian, an instructor at the Institute Francais de la mode and the Ecole nationale superieure des arts decoratifs. He is also the author of several books, including Hidden Underneath.