The House of Dior was established by Christian Dior in 1946. Christian was a fascinating character, and we can’t possibly do him justice in a short blog post. The shortened version of his story is: his first foray into the world of fashion was selling fashion designs outside his house for ten cents each. He worked alongside Balmain at the House of Piguet, where they both learned the values of simplicity in design, and at Lucien Lelong, where he and Balmain honed their elegant edge.
Dior had a controversial history during World War II. He spent part of the war designing dresses for the wives of Nazi officers in an effort to keep the French fashion business alive, as did other design houses. Dior’s sister Catherine, on the other hand, worked for the resistance, was captured and incarcerated in the Ravensbruck concentration camp. Dior’s first fragrance, Miss Dior, was named in her honor.
Dior’s first collection for his own house included the now iconic “New Look”, which was not initially well received. “Too much fabric!” was the cry of the masses. Dior perservered with his vision, and the New Look became firmly embedded in fashion history.
Christian Dior and Grace
The collaboration between Princess Grace and the House of Dior began before her marriage, and it was a product of friendship and mutual respect. For the premiere of Rear Window, she appeared his black and white dress Caracas dress from the 1954 Spring/Summer Collection.
Her family estimated that eventually almost a third of her wardrobe was designed by Dior. Most famously, he designed the gown Grace wore at her engagement party at the Waldorf Astoria, and the gown for her official portrait.
Marc Bohan Years
After Dior’s early death in 1957, Marc Bohan took over the design reigns at Dior. Bohan had worked with Dior at Lelong, but many find his aesthetic quite different. Judge for yourself: below is Grace at a soiree in Monte Carlo, 1969, wearing Marc Bohan for Christian Dior.
She rewore the gown in 1970. Grace and Bohan became close friends, and he was present at many family gatherings.
Another Bohan creation, for a costume party that included Sophia Loren and some wild headdresses.
This was rather a mod look for Grace, at least for the late sixties.
What do you say? Marc Bohan and his seventies aesthetic? Or the classic Christian? Stay tuned for the next installments: the House of Dior and Royal Wedding Gowns, and The House of Dior and Other Royals, including the iconic gown for Princess Margaret.