Christian Dior (1905 – 1957) founded his eponymous couture house towards the end of 1946 opening a boutique at 30 Avenue Montaigne and showing his first collection in February the following year.
Famous for introducing the world of high fashion to a ‘New Look’ his designs caused an immediate stir in a Paris still recovering from the aftermath of World War II. Later the same year he launched his first perfume and in 1948 he opened a boutique in New York at 730 5th Avenue. By the end of the 1940s, Dior fashions were reported to make up 75% of Paris’s fashion exports and in 1950 Christian received the Legion d’Honneur in recognition of his contribution to haute couture. The following year he was commissioned by Princess Margaret to make a formal dress for her to wear on her 21st birthday and later that year she visited him in his Paris atelier.
The first Dior lipstick was launched in 1953 and in 1955 the young aspiring fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent was hand picked by Christian to be his Head Assistant at just 19 years old. Only two years later Saint Laurent found himself promoted to Artistic Director after the sudden death of his mentor from a heart attack. Christian Dior might have only headed his company for 10 years but he left an indelible mark on the world of fashion and his name has become synonymous with style and elegance.
In 1959 the House created a custom gown for Farah Diba to wear at her wedding to the Shar of Iran and eight years later also made her coronation gown. The first Dior boutique opened in London in 1961 as the company continued to expand and introduce new collections across couture, ready to wear, fragrance, cosmetics and accessories.
Dior launched its first wristwatch in 1972 and with each subsequent collection has sought to lift the art of horology to new heights of excellence. The company prides itself on marrying French artistic design and flair with Swiss precision and technicality in all of their timepieces. Their watchmaking workshop is situated in La Chaux-de-Fonds where each piece is painstakingly crafted in gold, steel or ceramic, many of them set with diamonds or coloured gems and all with movements crafted by Zenith.
In 1998 Dior Joaillerie was launched under the guiding hand of jewellery designer Victoire de Castellane who remains at the helm today. Whilst the House had long been designing costume jewellery with which to accessorise their fashion shows, this was the first time they had ventured into the world of diamonds, pearls and coloured gems. With a love of bold shapes and strong colours, often used in striking, multi-hued combinations, Castellane’s jewellery was, and is, very distinctive. She has created multiple collections over the years as well as many individual bespoke commissions and cites her inspirations as being a diverse combination of floral and natural motifs, Bollywood, Manga, Alice in Wonderland, and Bassett’s Liquorice Allsorts, to name a few. Her 2011 collection Bal des Roses payed tribute to Christian Dior’s favourite flower – the rose – as well as his iconic gowns of the 1950s and was designed to “evoke the image of blooming women attending a ball in their most beautiful haute couture gowns.”
Her subsequent ‘Couture’ collection took inspiration from the shapes created by flowing ribbons, elegant bows and ripples of fabric – shapes inspired by Dior’s heritage and artistry with all things material. It took the origins and history of the House of Dior and celebrated them in diamonds and gemstones, bringing together Haute Couture and Haute Joaillerie in a fittingly elegant and beautiful fashion.