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Christian Dior was a French couturier, best known for his eponymous fashion house which is often referred to as just Dior. Dior, a brand rooted in history and just as luxurious as it sounds. An internationally renowned brand since 1946, the French fashion house acclaimed for its elegance and timeless femininity. A leading company that has remained at the top of fashion’s hierarchy for over 70 years, Dior’s unique look has influenced the world of fashion since the beginning. Innovative but traditional, Dior maintains its reputation as creator of recognized haute couture. From their ready-to-wear fashion, leather goods, accessories, and shoes…we are all obsessed with DIOR!
Here are some interesting facts:
• Born in the seaside town of Granville on the coast of Normandy in 1905, he was the son of a wealthy fertiliser 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.
• Following the onset of the Great Depression in 1929, the death of both his mother and his brother, and the collapse of his father’s business, Dior was forced to close his art gallery. He then went to work with fashion designer Robert Piguet until he was called up for military service in 1940.
• At the end of his service in 1942, he began working for couturier Lucien Long, where he and Pierre Balmain were the primary designers. During the war, Lelong – like other French ateliers including Jeanne Lanvin and Nina Ricci – dressed the wives of Nazi officers and French collaborators as a way of preserving the fashion industry throughout the conflict for both economic and artistic reasons.
• At the same time, Dior’s younger sister Catherine joined the French Resistance, resulting in her capture by the Gestapo and subsequent imprisonment at the Ravensbrück concentration camp. She survived and was liberated in 1945. In 1947, Dior named his debut fragrance Miss Dior as a tribute to her.
• He founded the house of Christian Dior on December 16, 1946 at 30 Avenue Montaigne 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.
• In 1955, the 19-year-old Yves Saint Laurent became Dior’s design assistant. Christian Dior later met with Yves Saint Laurent’s mother, Lucienne Mathieu-Saint Laurent, in 1957 to tell her that he had chosen Saint Laurent to succeed him at Dior. She said at the time she had been confused by the remark, as Dior was only 52 at the time.
• Shortly after his meeting with Saint Laurent’s mother, Christian Dior suffered a fatal heart attack on October 24, 1957, leaving the house in disarray. 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 stabilise the label, Jacques Rouët appointed the then-21-year-old Yves Saint-Laurent as artistic director.
• 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.
• In 1978, the Boussac Group filed for bankruptcy and its assets, including Dior, were sold to the Willot Group. After it went into administration, Bernard Arnault and his investment group purchased the Willot Group’s holdings for “one symbolic franc” in 1984. On assuming power, Arnault drastically altered Dior’s operations. In 1985, Arnault became chairman, CEO and managing director of Christian Dior. He repositioned it as the holding company Christian Dior S.A and in 1988, took a 32 per cent equity stake into the share capital of LVMH creating one of the leading and most influential luxury goods conglomerates in the world, whilst Christian Dior remains to stand alone as a megabrand in it’s own right.
• Gianfranco Ferre was made stylistic director of Christian Dior in 1989, replacing Marc Bohan. He remained in this position until 1997.
• In 1997, Arnault appointed British designer John Galliano to replace Marc Bohan at the creative helm. “Galliano has a creative talent very close to that of Christian Dior. He has the same extraordinary mixture of romanticism, feminism and modernity that symbolised Monsieur Dior. In all of his creations – his suits, his dresses – one finds similarities to the Dior style,” said Arnault of Galliano.
• Galliano was creative director of Christian Dior until March 2011, when he was dismissed after being filmed slurring anti-Semitic remarks and allegedly assaulting a member of the public whilst heavily intoxicated in a Paris bar. Galliano’s former-design director Bill Gayten headed up the house until April 9 2012 when it was announced, after more than a year of rumour and speculation, that Raf Simons had taken over as ‘artistic director’ at the house.