Born in 1905 in Granville, on the Normandy coast, France, Christian Dior was the second of the five children of Alexandre Louis Maurice Dior, a wealthy fertiliser manufacturer. When he grew young, Dior had inclination for arts but, at his father’s insistence, he enrolled at the prestigious Ecole des Sciences Politiques (nicknamed Sciences Po’) in Paris to take a degree in politics.
Dior’s interest towards arts, especially fashion, convinced his father to give him enough money to open an art gallery. Galerie Jacques Bonjean soon became an avant garde haunt with paintings by famous painters. In 1931 the death of Dior’s older brother followed by that of his mother and collapsed the family firm and the gallery closed. For the next few years Dior scraped a living by selling his fashion sketches to haute couture houses. Later in 1938 he was hired by Robert Piguet as an assistant.
In 1939, during World War II Dior served as an officer and later in 1941 he was offered a job by the couturier Lucien Lelong. Dior spent the rest of the War dressing the wives of Nazi officers and French collaborators. Taking advantage of the business opportunities after the world war Dior, backed by his childhood friend Marcel Boussac, launched the new couture house in 1946. On 12 february, 1947 the first Christian Dior couture show was scheduled where he displayed the extremely popular New Look which featured feminine elegance with rounded shoulders, a cinched waist, and a very full skirt. The opulence of his designs contrasted with the grim post-war reality of Europe, and helped re-establish Paris as the joyful fashion capital it had once been. In 1954 he presented the French bean line or Flat look.
1947 - Dior New Look
Throughout the 1950s Christian Dior was the biggest and best-run haute couture house in Paris. Each collection throughout this period had a theme – classic suits, ballerina-length skirts, the H-line in 1954, and A- and Y-lines in 1955.
1954 H-Line suit
1955 Y-Line suit
Dior was first to arrange licensed production of his designs. Furs, stockings, ties and perfume were manufactured in regional centres across the world, spreading his brand name quickly about the globe.
Vogue, Nov. 1954 - featuring Dior's tiny waist dress
In 1957, Dior died of a heart attack after choking on a fishbone at dinner in Italy. Yves Saint Laurent, whom Dior hired in 1955 and was Dior’s assistant of four years, took over as head designer. The first Christian Dior collection after Dior’s death was a sensation. Designed in just nine weeks by Yves Saint Laurent, his trapeze line was successful, but his 1960 bohemian look met heavy criticism from the press. Later Saint Laurent was called for military duty in 1960 and from there on several artistic designers followed including Marc Bohan (1960-1989) and Gianfranco Ferre (1989-1996).
The trapeze dress from Saint Laurent, 1958
Finally in 1996, John Galliano was appointed as the chief designer of Christian Dior by the company’s owner, the LVMH luxury goods group. In his collections for Dior, he knows best how to mix Dior’s traditional style with his own contemporary visions and take fashion to a whole new level of glamour and luxury. Galliano was instrumental in reviving Dior’s image–stirring up continued controversy with such events as a homeless show, featuring models dressed in newspapers and paper bags, and an S&M show.
Christian Dior Couture had built its fame on women’s fashions. But in 2001 the company gambled in for its men’s fashion and it was an instant success. The company got quickly noted among its customers such luminaries as Mick Jagger and Brad Pitt. Dior opened the first Dior Homme boutique in Milan on February 20, 2002 and from then on many flagship boutiques were opened at Tokyo in 2004, Rue Royal, Paris in 2004 and Moscow. Various Dior perfumes were also launched viz. men’s fragrance Higher 2001, Addict in 2002, the Miss Dior Chérie perfume and the Dior Homme fragrance in 2005. Galliano also released his own Dior watches in 2001 which led to the much success. In 2005, Dior’s Chiffre Rouge collection was recognized by the World Watches and Jewelry Show in Basel, Switzerland. In 2005 the fashion house also celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birthday of designer Christian Dior.
2002 - Dior's Watch collection piece
Dior Homme received a new Artistic Director in 2007, Kris Van Assche, who presented its first collection later that year. Currently, Dior is featured in countless high-fashion magazines, more prominently Vogue, and advertises its popular Christian Dior Cosmetics and Perfumes via prominent fashionistas and models.
CHRISTIAN DIOR (1905 to 1957), the most influential fashion designer of the late 1940s and 1950s, dominated fashion after World War II with the hourglass silhouette of his voluptuous New Look. He also defined a new business model in the post-war fashion industry by establishing Dior as a global brand across a wide range of products.
1910: Family moved from Granville to Paris.
1923: Joined Ecole des Sciences Politiques for a degree in politics.
1938: Dior became assistant to couturier Robert Piguet.
1946: Opens his own couture house backed by Marcel Boussac.
1947: Debuts his couture collection, New Look which was a success for its voluptuous silhouette and luxurious fabrics. Launched the first Dior perfume – Miss Dior.
1948: Opens a ready-to-wear boutique in New York and negotiate the licensing rights for Christian Dior hosiery, ties and other products.
1954: Unveils his new direction, the French Bean Line or Flat Look.
1955: Yves Saint Laurent joins Dior as a design assistant.
1957: Christian Dior dies of a heart attack in Italy.
1958: Laurent’s trapeze line received success.
1996: John Galliano was appointed as head designer for Dior.
2001: Launched ‘contemporary masculine concept under Hedi Slimane and got success.
2005: Dior’s 100th anniversary was celebrated.
Not to miss:
Presenting Christian Dior Spring/Summer 2010 Collection