The life and career of the French fashion designer Christian Dior

Christian Dior was born in 1905 to affluent parents in the fertilizer business in Granville, Normandy. Christian's parents always hoped he would go into diplomacy, pushing him toward that field of study. After completing his degree in 1928, he moved to Paris and opened a modest art gallery to pursue his lifelong passion. His father's business failed, forcing him to sell the gallery where Picassos and Max Jacobs could be found. While this was unfortunate for him, it was good news for the art world.

After relocating to Paris and finding himself unemployed, Christian Dior worked in the 1930s as a model designer at Lucien Long's fashion house, where he and Pierre Balmain would become the house's primary designers. In 1945, it was finally decided to set up on its own, supported by Marcel Boussac, a wealthy cotton producer. It would be in December 1946 when he would eventually open his boutique, and in February of the following year, he would present his first collection, Corolle. This is the moment when the legend of the New Look begins to take shape.

In the midst of what is still remembered as Europe's worst war, the austere and reflective spirit that gave birth to the New Look emerged. Christian Dior gambled on voluptuousness and emphasized feminine forms when all clothing brands relied on austerity and conservative forms. The collection was called "Corolle" (corolla), a flower, because of the flowing and ethereal shapes they created. The waistlines of the clothes in the collection were tight, making curves and round shapes.

Carmel Snow, editor in chief of the American Harper's Bazaar, is widely credited with coining the term "New Look" and working within the magazine's pages to help foster the development of this one-of-a-kind fashion designer. Not only did the best of society's women and European royalty come to adore his designs in the '50s, but they also became avid collectors of his works. Hollywood also fell for them: Ava Gardner, Marlene Dietrich, and Rita Hayworth were regular customers of Dior. However, it would be wrong to say that Dior's designs were instantly well-received; early on, female consumers voiced concerns that the dresses exposed too much skin. They had gotten used to wearing shorter skirts due to the wartime fabric shortage, so they thought Mr. Dior was wasting too much material. Early on, some Parisian circles even mocked the couturier's generosity in cutting fabrics. However, thanks mainly to Christian Dior's efforts, Paris has become the undisputed fashion world capital.
 
Christian Dior died accidentally from a heart attack in 1957. Soon, a young man named Yves Saint Laurent entered the Dior house as a model. In 1960, he was dismissed from his position to serve in the military, and the company was immediately thrust into its darkest and most conventional era under the leadership of Marc Bohan. It would be in 1988 when, with Gianfranco Ferre as the new creative director, the house would recover from its past of splendor and glamor.
 
In 1996, when the Gibraltarian John Galliano replaced Ferre, the Dior group was again elevated to the pinnacle of luxury thanks to Galliano's emphasis on femininity, exclusivity, and charm. We could say that Galliano-very much in his way and through his deliciously excessive filter-is the heir to the feminine, romantic, and opulent style that Christian Dior started in his time. Dior decided to fire Galliano in 2011 after a scandal involving his drunkenness and anti-Semitic remarks at a Paris bar. After a few years with Raf Simons at the helm (the Belgian signed Dior models from 2001 to 2015), the house's creative direction was in the hands of an innovative team. Since 2015, Italian designer Maria Grazia Chiuri has been the house's creative director. While working with Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino, she debuted her first collection in 2016 with the slogan "We Should All Be Feminists" on the front of a shirt. A clear message that would mark the course of the designer's path that never ceases to surprise, remaining faithful to the values of the symbolic French house.
 
Dior SA now plays a significant role within the LVMH conglomerate. A world of fashion divides its action between the Haute Couture collection and pret-a-porter for women and their accessories.
 
Among the house's innumerable legacies are the Miss Dior cologne, launched in 1947, the matching shoes, the Montaigne and Lady bag (named after Princess Diana of Wales, who wore it frequently), and the iconic J'adore perfume. I love that he is still one of the most loved in the house.

Where should we hold the housewarming ceremony? The permanent Christian Dior museum is located in Granville, France, and features iconic designs by the designer. The Victoria and Albert Museum is currently housing the impressive exhibition "Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams," which features over 500 objects, including 200 rare examples of haute couture clothing, fashion photography, films, vintage perfumes, and original makeup, illustrations, magazines, and personalities. One of the most impressive pieces? The Christian Dior dress worn by Princess Margaret to celebrate her 21st birthday was generously borrowed from the Museum of London.

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