To properly define how Christian Dior changed the fashion world, look no further than the “New Look” trend that resuscitated post-war fashion of the late 1940s & 50s. It was an era rid of excess pleasures and brimming with austere necessities. Although fashion-resuscitation during this period was not a task carried out by monsieur Dior alone, tis only a fool who ignores his impact. 50 years have passed since Christian Dior’s death, though his footprint remains stamped in our subconscious guide to “chic endeavors”.
Dior was born into a family of wealth and stability. His future was prematurely mapped out and the word “fashion” was not part of the plan. While still quite young he developed a knack for drawing and was fascinated by his mother’s garden and the visually pleasing setting of the local carnival. This ultimately culminated his decision to enroll at an art school. Not a pleasing career choice for his mother who was deadest on having an ambassador for a son.
With much opposition from his family he set out for the then bohemian lifestyle of Paris. Unfortunately his academic life proved volatile and instead convinced his father to fund an art gallery. Proving that even the most successful can be fickle in their youth, this also didn’t last long. Hardships eventually halted financial assistance from his father, closing the art gallery, leaving him to fend for himself. This was a turning point. At a friend’s request— who was working in couture—he began sketching some designs… Then I’m sure you can imagine how the story unfolds. However what you might not know is that it was at the age of forty, that Dior’s career was still budding.
After strategic persuasion, Dior convinced a wealthy textile tycoon, Marcel Broussac, to back him financially. Whatever X factor nourished the designer into believing he could successfully open a couture house in the midst of a war-stricken society, is anyone’s call. However, the impact of this decision is unquestionable. February 12th 1947, was the day Christian Dior became a fashion revolutionary. His collection, ‘Corolle’ was the light at the end of the tunnel. Full skirts with yards and yards of fabric swept away the dated and dreary styles that so many women were forced to wear. This single gesture revived the women of France and shocked editors around the world. Nevertheless the appeal went from guilty pleasure to standard style, as it crossed the Atlantic.
It was Harper’s Bazaar’s then famous editor-in-chief, Caramel Snow, that dubbed the collection “New Look” (her shrewd unrelenting reputation would leave Anna Wintour in the dust). If Dior decided to change careers after that moment and become a small-time farmer, this moment would’ve still been etched in stone as a supreme revelation in fashion—and he a man with supreme ideas.
His famous fragrance “Miss Dior” which was launched, to accompany this collection, is still to this day one of the most popular fragrances internationally. 50 years after his death we can still credit that figure 8 figure to this designer. Since 1957 we’ve seen many designers rise from this man’s legacy…
Yves Saint Laurent (who took over the reigns at Dior after his mentor’s death at the age of 21).
In 2007 the house of Dior still remains to have an unbridled effect on how women dress. After Christian Dior’s debut in 1947, its popularity has stood the test of time, making it one of the most successful houses in the world. We can only hope for 50 years more of Christian Dior.