Christian Dior... Designer of dreams

 
 
Models pose in the new Christian Dior collection at House of Dior’s headquarters, Paris in 1957.  Photograph: Loomis Dean/Time Life Pictures

Models pose in the new Christian Dior collection at House of Dior’s headquarters, Paris in 1957.

Photograph: Loomis Dean/Time Life Pictures

 
 

Here at Partridge HQ we are really excited for the Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition that is coming up at the V&A museum in February. With a life-long love of all things Dior, we take a look at some of our favourite moments in Dior history. Founded in 1947, Dior has seen seven fashion designers who have all constructed its history; Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and currently Maria Grazia Chiuri. Christian Dior has always introduced innovation to each new season.
Since the first show on 12 February 1947, baptised as “the New Look”, the House has continued to impose its vision through elegant, architectural and endlessly feminine shapes.

Model wears the bar suit from the 1947 collection that would revolutionise fashion.

Model wears the bar suit from the 1947 collection that would revolutionise fashion.

The New Look

Christian Dior changed the rules of elegance around the world with his debut collection in 1947. It may not look extreme to us in the present day, however Christian Dior’s New Look revolutionised fashion. Originally inspired by the curves and dramatic shapes of the female form, Dior’s signature style of draping rich beautiful silks, and heavily embellished dresses is how he is remembered. The first collection divided the public, not common after wartime rationing, the use of such an abundance of fabric caused a stir and was seen to some as being in bad taste after the make do and mend attitude that had ruled over the previous years, some protesters in Paris tore from the younger models.

To the younger fashionista the luxurious draping of fabulous fabrics was a much needed relief, a vision of a new world, with youthful hope and optimism for the future.


Bar suit, Spring/Summer 1947 collection, Sketch by Christian Bérad.

Bar suit, Spring/Summer 1947 collection, Sketch by Christian Bérad.

Miss Dior short evening dress, Spring/Summer 1949 collection, Trompe-l’oeil line. Dress embroidered with mille-fleurs design by Barbier

Miss Dior short evening dress, Spring/Summer 1949 collection, Trompe-l’oeil line. Dress embroidered with mille-fleurs design by Barbier

Illustration by René Gruau, published in 1949.

Illustration by René Gruau, published in 1949.

 
Model wears dress designed by Yves Saint Laurent with the elephants of  Cirque d’Hiver, August 1955

Model wears dress designed by Yves Saint Laurent with the elephants of

Cirque d’Hiver, August 1955

Yves Saint Laurent

A young Yves Saint Laurent began working alongside Christian Dior in 1955, learning the secrets of haute couture from the master himself.  On October 24, 1957, Christian Dior died from a heart attack during a stay in Montecatini, Italy.

According to the wishes of Dior, Yves Saint Laurent became his successor and was named artistic director of the haute couture house at the age of 21.

Yves Saint Laurent is young, but he is an immense talent. In my last collection, I consider him to be the father of thirty-four out of the 180 designs. I think the time has come to reveal it to the press. My prestige won’t suffer from it.
— Christian Dior to Jacques Rouet, July 1957

John Galliano

We love John Galliano’s impact on the Christian Dior brand. Galliano was head designer between 1996 and 2011, and he brought an extravagant mix of modernity and feminism which met with a fun colourful attitude. Galliano created some of the most show-stopping iconic looks the Dior brand has ever seen, with his love of the theatre, a look that changed Dior and the catwalk forever.

Spring/Summer 1997 Haute couture collection.  Photograph: Michael Thompson

Spring/Summer 1997 Haute couture collection.

Photograph: Michael Thompson

Spring/Summer 2006  Photograph: Vogue

Spring/Summer 2006

Photograph: Vogue

"Japanese New Look" Spring/Summer 2007  Photograph: Vogue

"Japanese New Look" Spring/Summer 2007

Photograph: Vogue

Go and see the exhibition, Christian Dior; The Designer of Dreams which opens at the V&A on Saturday, 2 February and will be running until the 14th of July 2019.