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Christian Dior was one of the most influential fashion designers in the world. During his career, he was responsible for the majority of French fashion design exports worldwide. Dior was born 21 January, 1905 in the seaside town of Granville in Normandy, France.
Christian Dior's family was wealthy and he was raised with four other siblings in a home with ocean views. When Christian was about five years old, the family moved to Paris, France, but still returned to the Normandy coast for summer vacations. Christian studied political science to please his parents even though he wanted to become an architect.
Although Christian Dior's parents had hoped their son would become a diplomat, his father did finance Christian's opening of an art gallery in 1928. The condition though was that the family name was not to be placed anywhere on the door. The art gallery was a success and it showcased the works of artists such as Pablo Picasso. Three years later, after the death of Dior's mother and brother and the decline of the family’s fertilizer business, the gallery had to be closed.
With the close of his art gallery, Christian Dior made a meager living selling his fashion sketches to haute couture houses. Next, he became an assistant to couturier, Robert Piguet. Dior made dresses for Nazi officer's wives during World War II. He worked for the fairly large fashion company owned by Lucien Lelong from 1940 to 1945 before switching to Marcel Boussac's business. Boussac, called The King of Cotton, owned a clothing company named Phillipe at Gaston.
Boussac helped finance The House of Dior in a mansion with eight employees. By 1947, Christian Dior's New Look was heavily influencing fashion worldwide. The term, New Look, was given to his designs after many comments that Dior's dresses had a new look to them that was unlike the usual style of the time. Dior's fresh dress look was an appealing, form-fitting hourglass shape and he was known as the most important designer of the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Christian Dior became successful and wealthy as a world renowned fashion designer. He died in Italy in 1957 after choking on a fishbone and then having a heart attack. Yves Saint Laurent, Dior's assistant of four years, became the head designer at Dior after Christian's death.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who was Christian Dior and why is he significant in the fashion industry?
Christian Dior was a revolutionary French fashion designer who founded the iconic fashion house, Maison Christian Dior, in 1946. He is significant for introducing the "New Look" silhouette immediately after World War II, which featured rounded shoulders, a cinched waist, and a full skirt. This design drastically changed women's fashion and reestablished Paris as the center of the fashion world. Dior's influence extended beyond aesthetics; he helped revive the French textile industry and luxury fashion globally.
What was the "New Look" and how did it impact post-war fashion?
The "New Look" was a fashion style created by Christian Dior in 1947, characterized by a narrow waist and full skirt, a stark contrast to the wartime styles that were utilitarian and fabric-conserving. It represented luxury, femininity, and opulence, and it had a significant impact on post-war fashion by bringing back a sense of indulgence and elegance. The "New Look" redefined women's fashion and set the tone for the 1950s, influencing designers and the fashion industry for years to come.
How did Christian Dior's designs reflect the cultural context of the time?
Christian Dior's designs reflected a desire for a return to normalcy and luxury after the austerity of World War II. His "New Look" offered a vision of femininity and glamour that resonated with women who had grown tired of the restrictions imposed by the war. The designs also mirrored the economic boom of the post-war era, where there was a renewed appetite for luxury goods and high fashion. Dior's work captured the spirit of the times, symbolizing hope and rebirth.
What is the legacy of Christian Dior in today's fashion world?
Christian Dior's legacy in today's fashion world is immense. The House of Dior remains a leading luxury brand, known for its haute couture and ready-to-wear collections. Dior's influence can be seen in the continued popularity of elegant, feminine silhouettes and the brand's commitment to craftsmanship and innovation. Moreover, Dior set a precedent for global fashion marketing and branding, with the house's products ranging from clothing to fragrances and accessories, maintaining a strong presence in the luxury market.
Did Christian Dior have any notable successors who continued his vision?
Yes, after Christian Dior's untimely death in 1957, his vision was carried on by a series of notable designers. Yves Saint Laurent, Dior's first successor, brought a youthful energy to the house. Subsequent designers like Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferr√©, John Galliano, Raf Simons, and Maria Grazia Chiuri have each contributed their unique interpretations while respecting Dior's legacy. Each has helped to ensure that the Dior brand remains at the forefront of fashion innovation and elegance.