Christian Dior Fashion Designer April 19 2022
When it comes to vintage fashion, Christian Dior is, without the slightest hint of a doubt, one of the ones—the ones you have to have, the ones who always seem relevant, the ones you default to for all things fashionable, beautiful, and chic. No matter the time period or whatever questionable fashion trends are popular, the Christian Dior label has always managed to be effortlessly elegant and gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous. The fact of the matter is this: Christian Dior knew how to dress women (and dress them well), and the designers that have continued the line also understand.
The House of Dior has a long and rich history—Christian Dior himself was born in Normandy in 1905, one of five children of a wealthy fertilizer manufacturer. At the age of 5, the Dior family moved to Paris. Once he left school, Dior first owned an art gallery before finding his way into the fashion world, first as a pattern cutter for Robert Piguet. He founded his label in 1946 at 30 Avenue Montaigne in Paris, launching his first spring/summer collection in 1947. You might know of it—a little thing called the New Look that completely changed the way the world viewed fashion. The New Look was this: full skirts (predominantly tea-length) with super-cinched waists. In the United States, this new silhouette came after the end of WWII, when war rationing limited the world of fashion and women all over found themselves necessary to step into the shoes of men and take over the jobs they had been forced to leave in order to join the war effort. With the New Look, the practical wartime looks were replaced by an absolute embracement of femininity. From his New Look, Christian Dior fashion quickly branched into perfumes, and opened a ready-to-wear store in New York City just a year later. From there, the label expanded into more countries around the world, and developed shoes, furs, neckties, hosiery, handbags, jewelry, scarves, and makeup—an absolutely unstoppable force.
Tragically, Christian Dior himself would not experience the full width of the success of his brand—shortly after appearing on the cover of Time magazine in 1957, Dior died after suffering from his third heart attack while on vacation in Italy. In Dior’s absence, 21-year-old Yves Saint Laurent was appointed artistic director of the fashion line. Saint Laurent had already been an employee of the House of Dior, joining the company at the invitation of Christian Dior himself in 1955 to be a Head Assistant. Saint Laurent stayed at the label as artistic director for only a few years—in 1960 he was forced to leave when he was called into service of the army, and was replaced by Marc Bohan. Bohan stayed at the label until 1989, when Gianfranco Ferré, the first non-French designer to take charge of the fashion house, took over. In 1997 John Galliano took the reins until 2011—today, the house is under the creative directorship of Raf Simons. One of my favorite images—the background of my computer, actually—is Richard Avedon’s 1955 image Dovima with Elephants. In this photograph, the model Dovima wears a black-and-white Christian Dior dress and is gracefully posed in front of multiple elephants. There is something almost ethereal about the image, and the entire photograph translates to timeless elegance. Dovima’s gown is so chic, so gorgeous, so utterly Dior—there’s really nothing better.
written by Heather Cox for Rice and Beans Vintage