Christian Dior’s Biography

Christian Dior Photograph by Bellini Archives Christian Dior

Fashion Designer Christian Dior (1905-1957) was born in Normandy, France. At his parents’ insistence, he studied political science. After military service and several years of indecision, he returned to Paris in 1935 and began his design career by selling sketches. His hat designs were initially more successful than his dress designs. But he concentrated on his dress designs and was hired by Robert Piguet in 1938. During the war, he served in the South of France, then returned again to Paris in 1941 and worked for Lucien Lelong, a much larger design house. In 1946, he was able to open his own house, backed by textile manufacturer Marcel Boussac.

For his first collection in 1947, he created the extremely popular “New Look”, which featured rounded shoulders, a cinched waist, and a very full skirt. Dior created an opulent clothing style which contrasted the severe living conditions of post-war France. After the war, he helped to re-establish Paris as the capital of world-fashion . Dior became the last great dictator of style in the 1950s. 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.

Together with his partner Jaques Rouet, Dior was the pioneer for license agreements in the fashion business. Already in 1948, he decided to arrange licensed production of furs, socks, ties, perfumes, and clothing in regionally seperate production centers. Thus spreading the brand name quickly around the globe.

In 1953, he hired Yves Saint Laurent as an assistant. After Dior’s sudden death in October 1957 in Italy, Saint Laurent became head designer and introduced the trapeze dress in his first collection for the house. When Saint Laurent was called for military duty in 1960, Marc Bohan took over, remaining until Gianfranco Ferre became designer in 1989. Ferre is to be replaced by the end of 1996.

After much talk about possible successors of Ferre, it has been confirmed in October 1996, that John Galliano will take his place as chief designer for Dior. Galliano, known as the current enfant terrible of the fashion business was responsible for Givenchy for two seasons before switching to Dior. It is believed that Dior’s parent-company LVMH wants rejuvenate Dior’s appearence, hoping it will create an equally astonishing run on Dior products like Tom Ford created for Gucci. Indeed, Galliano’s appraoch to fashion resembles Dior’s intention when he started in 1947. In contrast to Chanel for example, Dior established a romantic and very feminine look, which emphasised luxury rather than comfort. Galliano, as Dior’s successor, creates an equally feminine style, blending today’s freedom of expression with the reminiscence of past opulence.

Dior is a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture et du Pret-a-Porter.

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