A Brief History of Dior | Savoir Flair
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A Brief History of Dior
article DIOR
by Grace Gordon 5-minute read March 5, 2016

Dior's transformation from humble beginnings to a fashion powerhouse.

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1905

On January 21st, Christian Dior is born in Granville and the family moves into Villa Les Rhumbs.

Pictured: Christian Dior's childhood home Les Rhumbs

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1928 - 1938

Christian Dior becomes friends with Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dalí, Francis Poulenc, and Christian Bérard. Dior opens his first gallery in Rue La Boétie in 1928, which stays open until 1931. He opens a second gallery in Rue Cambacérès from 1932 to 1934. In 1938, Christian Dior becomes Robert Piguet’s assistant in Paris until he is called up for military service in September 1939.

Pictured: Christian Dior early sketch

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1941-1947

This would prove to be the decade that would define Christian Dior’s career and launch him onto the global stage. It all begins in 1941 when, after returning from military service, Dior becomes Lucien Lelong’s assistant. After five years learning under Lelong, he meets Marcel Boussac in July of 1946, and the famed French industrialist offers to help him found a couture house under his own name. On his way to the second meeting, Christian Dior finds a metal star in the street, which the superstitious designer takes as a good omen and which prompts him to accept Boussac’s proposal. Together, the two create the Christian Dior Couture house at 30, Avenue Montaigne. The star goes on to become one of the house’s signatures.

Pictured: Early Christian Dior gown created in 1947

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1947 - 1951

In 1947, Dior debuts his first spring/summer collection, which includes the Corolle and En 8 lines – which transform fashion virtually overnight. This collection also introduces the now iconic Bar suit, which heralded Dior’s New Look (a term that was actually invented by Carmel Snow), and nearly overnight, Dior becomes a household name. On the heels of his tremendous debut success, Dior launches his first-ever fragrance called Miss Dior which captures the youthful, modern spirit of his brand. In 1948, Dior shows the Zig-Zag, Envol, and Ailée lines, and also opens a fur department, and a Dior atelier overseas in New York City on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street. The following years sees the emergence of his Trompe-l’œil and Milieu du siècle lines, as well as a line of hosiery in the USA. By 1951, the House of Christian Dior employs 900 people, and the famed designer releases his first book, “Je Suis Couturier.”

Pictured: Dior Presentation at Defile Avenue Montaigne 

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1952 – 1959

In 1952, Dior launches his Sinueuse and Profilée lines, and the following year he creates his first bespoke footwear line in collaboration with Roger Vivier and appoints Frédéric Castet as director of the tailleur atelier, succeeding Pierre Cardin. The same year, Dior launches Rouge Dior, a lipstick range featuring eight shades that match with the Dior red of his collections. Dior continues to author his own works as well, publishing “The Little Dictionary of Fashion” in 1954. He then branches into academia in 1955, lecturing on the “Aesthetics of Fashion” in front of 4,000 students at the Sorbonne in Paris. The following year, he publishes his third book, “Christian Dior Et Moi” and launches Diorissimo perfume. At this point in his career, Dior is regarded as something of a superhero, with a vision so broad that he not only creates astonishing collections that transform the fashion industry as a whole, but he also writes, and curates, and lectures as well. For that reason, Time Magazine devotes its cover to him in 1957. Later that year, he hires Marc Bohan as Creative Director of Dior London. 

Unfortunately and tragically, Dior dies of a heart attack on October 24, 1957, which shocked the world. Yves Saint Laurent is appointed Creative Director following Dior’s untimely death. The brand still issues a posthumous launch of Dior’s Libre and Fuseau lines. In 1958, Yves Saint Laurent creates his first Christian Dior Haute Couture collection for Spring/Summer 1958, calling it the Trapèze line. In 1959, Christian Dior Haute Couture is presented in Moscow, drawing an audience of 11,000 people. Marc Bohan becomes Creative Director of the House of Dior, after Yves Saint Laurent departs the brand for a stint of military service.

Pictured: Dior working in his atelier

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1963-1973

In 1963, the brand launches the Diorling perfume, which is created to be a spiritual homage to Christian Dior with a dash of Anglomania. The Dior maison remains busy over the next few years, launching more perfume line, until 1967 when Philippe Guilbourgé creates the first Christian Dior Women’s Ready-to-Wear collection, named Miss Dior. In 1973, Frédéric Castet creates the first Christian Dior Ready-to-Wear fur collection.

Pictured: Francois De Roussy's presentation for Dior

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1981-1990

In 1981, Marc Bohan designs the dresses worn by Princess Grace of Monaco, Princess Alexandra of Yugoslavia, and Lady Pamela Hicks, daughter of Lord Mountbatten, for one of the most iconic weddings in all of history: the marriage of the Prince of Wales to Lady Diana Spencer

In 1984, Bernard Anault assumes the helm of the House, and becomes the CEO of the company the following year. On the 40th anniversary of the House in 1987, a major retrospective entitled “Homage to Christian Dior 1947-1957”, debuts at the Musée des Arts de la Mode in Paris. In 1989, Gianfranco Ferré succeeds Marc Bohan as Christian Dior’s creative director, and that same year Ferré receives the Dé d’or for his splendid first Haute Couture collection for Fall/Winter 1989-1990.

Pictured: Princess Diana carrying a Lady Dior bag

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1996-2012

In 1995, John Galliano succeeds Gianfranco Ferré as Creative Director of the women’s collections. He is eventually succeeded by Raf Simons in 2012. Simons’ first collection for Dior is heralded as a flawless success, proving that he is the embodiment of the modern Dior spirit. Also in 2012, the brand unveils its “Secret Garden” campaign, which was shot on location at Versailles.

Pictured: Dior RTW by Raf Simons 

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2013-2015

In March of 2013, Dior presents its Haute Couture collection in Shanghai, and later that year it launches the “Lady Dior As Seen By” exhibition to inaugurate the new boutique on The Landmark and Pacific Place in Hong Kong. Following that, the House of Dior unveils the inaugural “Miss Dior” exhibit at the Grand Palais in Paris. In 2015, Raf Simons wins the praise of the entire fashion industry with an extraordinary presentation for Spring/Summer 2016 that was set against an unbelievable (man-made) flower-filled mountainside that featured over 400,000 delphinium flowers. On October 22, 2015, the brand confirms that Raf Simons is leaving Dior, which is news that sends the fashion world into a tailspin.

Pictured: Raf Simons at Dior Finale

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2016-Present

After eight months of searching for a replacement for Raf Simons, the brand lands on a new Creative Director. Maria Grazia Chiuri, formerly of Valentino, accepts the position as the head of Dior. With Grazia Chiuri’s appointment came sweeping change, as she updates the house codes with a strong feminist message. Memorably, her first collection issues the proclamation, “We should all be feminists.” And since that auspicious beginning, Grazia Chiuri continues to provoke and inspire with collections that have elevated female artists, poets, and activists – as well as reinventing Dior signatures like the 'Bar' jacket and the Saddle bag.

Pictured: Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior Fall 2017 Couture

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