For your Christian Dior library

29/04/2012

Dior library: Christian Dior et moi | Dior by Dior, Dior by Alexandra Palmer, The Little Dictionary of Fashion: A Guide to Dress Sense for Every Woman, Christian Dior: The Biography, Dior by Farid Chenoune, Christian Dior - The Man Behind The Myth via fashioned by love
It’s the last day of the Christian Dior fashion week and I am going to spend it talking about some of the best books and documentaries that would make a great addition to any fashion library. The most frustrating thing about fashion literature is that many books do not ever get published twice, so once the moment is gone, it’s very difficult to acquire a decent copy.

Whenever it comes to making the right choice, I tend to go for the titles that allow me to learn more about a person himself rather than his fashions. Although the designs and collections are indeed important and incredibly fascinating to study, it is the life and mind of a designer that I am most interested it because, lets face it, this is the best way to understand the magic behind each dress or accessory way beyond the beautiful facade.

Christian Dior et moi | Dior by Dior is a must-have. Written by Christian Dior himself, this book provides some valuable insides into his life and creative process. If you savour it, you will also come across some of the most wonderful quotes.

The French version is a beautiful hardback and has the benefit of added imagery, so if you speak French, it's a must have.

Christian Dior et moi | Dior by Dior
Dior by Alexandra Palmer is on top of my list for the amount of details and information it provides. It’s incredibly well researched and accompanied by beautiful images and documents from the house archives.

Dior by Alexandra Palmer


Christian Dior: The Biography by Marie-France Pochna is like a beautifully written novel that you can read in bed and lose yourself on its pages. In a way, it reminded me of Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life by Justine Picardie – there’s something special about the melody of wording, the way the story flows and takes you away on the journey through life of an extraordinary man, not just a designer.

The Little Dictionary of Fashion: A Guide to Dress Sense for Every Woman is a charming little tome written by Monsieur Dior. It is full of quotes and advice on how to look chic and stylish. Yes, the book may be 50+ years old, but it proves that true style has not time frames. The quotes are absolutely precious.
The Little Dictionary of Fashion: A Guide to Dress Sense for Every Woman

Dior by Farid Chenoune is still on my wish list as the best book for beautiful images and details of the dresses created during the 60-year history of the house.

Dior by Farid Chenoune
Dior by Farid Chenoune

Christian Dior - The Man Behind The Myth is a documentary that includes a lot of the original footage and interviews. You can watch the trailer on youtube.

Photo source: dior.com

Christian Dior

27/04/2012

Christian Dior
Writing a story about Christian Dior isn’t an easy task and somewhat pointless since his life and achievements have been thoroughly documented and talked about to an extent that makes my innocent attempt  nothing more than a drop in the ocean. Nevertheless here it comes…

Christian Dior was born on 21 January 1905 at 1:30 in the morning. His father, Maurice Dior, did very well for himself. By 1912 he and his cousin and business partner Lucien were successfully running a fertilising business, one of the biggest enterprises in Normandy, with a capital of 4 million franks, so the Dior family lived a very comfortable live spent between their house in Normandy and a beautiful Parisian apartment in the fashionable 16th arrondissement.

Christian Dior home in Granville
Christian Dior Le Rhumbs Normandy
gardens at Le Rhumbs
Needless to say little Christian had a very privileged and idyllic childhood. He wasn’t interested in school and barely scraped through. He did, however, discover his real passions: the carnivals, the secret and exciting Parisian destinations, art, good food, beautiful gardens and, of course, fashion. He often made costumes for his brothers and sisters and later, encouraged by this grandmother and with a help of a family seamstress, even took orders from real customers!

Young Christian Dior | short biography
When in Paris he was the only child who was allowed to accompany his mother to a florist or dressmaker and even help with menu choices whenever a party was planned.

Just like his grandmother he believed in fate and fortune-tellers. In 1919 a gypsy told him that he will “achieve success through women” and “will make a great deal of money out of them”. When the boy broke the news to his parents, it caused nothing more than teasing jokes and roars of laughter - Maurice and Madeleine Dior didn’t seem to grasp the fact that their son was different, creative and not at all suitable for spending his life working as a company director or business administrator. When Christian told them about his dream of studying at the Académie des Beaux-Arts, their answer was “no”, it was definitely not something they wanted Christian to pursue. And so Dior enrolled in the School of Political Science that allowed him to satisfy his parents wishes without making any commitments or changing his own plans.

More and more he found himself captivated by the world of fashion, particularly Poiret’s designs that Dior found inspirational. The main problem was that becoming a couturier was totally unacceptable for a man of his status and background. The only way for Dior to get closer to this world was working in an art gallery. His parents found the new idea suitable enough for their son to pursue. He received the required funds from his father accompanied by his mother’s wish that the name of Dior was to never appear in the title of Christian’s business. For Madeleine, running an art gallery was no different to owning a grocery store and an absolute disgrace to the family status.

The good fortunes continued until the early 1930s. In 1931 Dior’s brother Bernard has to be sent to a psychiatric institution. Heart-broken, Madeleine Dior wasn’t able to get through such a shock and passed away in May the same year. The family was broke due to the economic crisis and became virtually penniless.

It was the time for Christian Dior to find his own path. He stayed in Paris. The days were spent job searching, letting himself go, getting away from his bourgeoisie upbringing, dreaming the impossible… He noticed that people admired his talent and ability create beautiful clothes and accessories out of nothing. He began sketching dresses and hats, mastering the art of drawing, observing life around him and hoping for a chance to break through.

Eventually his designs became known. Nina Ricci, Schiaparelli, Balenciaga and Patou all became aware of Dior’s sketches and from 1935 the list of his clients began to grow.

Christian Dior original sketch
In 1938 he was introduced to Robert Piguet, one of the most famous couturiers at the time. Piguet liked Dior’s sketches and asked him to design a few dresses for his upcoming collection and then offered him a full-time position as a modéliste. In 1939 he also began designing costumes for theatre plays.

The life seemed almost perfect. Then the war broke out. After spending the first few months at Mehun-sur-Yèvre where Dior rediscovered his passion for gardening and farming he received a letter from Piguet inviting him back to Paris. Unfortunately, by the time Christian returned, his position was filled and Dior had to find a new way to establish himself. He soon heard that Lucien Lelong was looking for a modéliste and joined the house.

Dior in his gardens
Dior was happy again until one day when his fate brought him face to face with Marcel Boussac who was looking for a new designer to take over his couture house, Phillipe et Gaston. The ninety minute meeting arranged on 19 April 1946 showed that the two had completely different ideas about the new business venture. While Boussac was looking for a couture house that would create simple, elegant and solid designs that generate profit, Dior wanted a house of his own, a new and exciting adventure built on fashion knowledge and dreams. 

On a way back Dior tripped over an object - he looked down and saw a star lying on the ground, as if it was the sign he's been waiting for. 

Christian Dior's lucky star
A few torturous days later Boussac sent a messenger to Dior. The offer was accepted on a condition that Dior would not be taking over the Phillipe at Gaston, but instead set up a Maison of his own.

Christian Dior Avenue Montagne
Now it was the time to find the right house. The No. 30 on the avenue Montagne was up for sale and turned out to be exactly the place the designer pictured in his mind.

Christian Dior at 30 Avenue Montagne
At 9 o’clock in the morning of 9 December 1946, the small town house and a former dress shop became the Maison Dior. 

Christian Dior & his staff
It had three work rooms in the attic, a tiny studio, a salon, a cabine where the models would change, an office and six small fitting rooms. Seeing his name light up on the building facade made him cry. “If my poor maman had still been alive, I would never have dared.”

Christian Dior Avenue Montagne
In 1946 women still looked like Amazons. The curves were hidden under unflattering boxy suits with knee length skirts made of inexpensive fabrics due to the shortage of material caused by the war and uniforms. Dior wanted to change that and bring the femininity back.

Christian Dior is working on a beaded couture gown for the Libre Haute Couture 1957 collection
With his love of architecture and clear-cut designs, Dior used a different technique that allowed him to mould the dresses to the curves of a female body, emphasising the hips, full feminine bust, round shoulders and tiny waist. The full bodied skirts made of yards and yards of silk were lined with cabric or taffeta according to an old tradition.

Aloetine from Christian Dior Profilee Autumn/Winter 1952 collection
The collection was made under a lot of pressure. There was not enough space for the production team. Some were unfamiliar with the techniques, others struggled from the lack of space and long hours. One of the models collapsed with a nervous breakdown and had to be replaced on the spot. A night before the big day the collection of 90 designs called was finished.

It was 12 February 1947 10:30 in the morning when the first model appeared in a salon on avenue Montagne wearing the first look. The signature design of collections named "Corolle" and "Huit" and comprising 90 looks was the Bar suit, a two-piece ensemble consisting of a pale, fitted jacket with narrow waist, padded hips and a black, mid-calf, knife pleated skirt.

Christian Dior bar suit 1947
As the  last model disappeared behind the curtains, the salon filled with an unstoppable ovation. The editor of Harper’s Bazaar was the first one to approach Dior. “It’s quite a revolution, dear Christian. Your dresses have such a new look” – she exclaimed.

The New Look was rediscovery of happiness, joy, love and beauty – all the elements women dreamed. Dior dresses were those dreams.

Christian Dior New Look 1947
“As long as I live, whatever triumphs I win, nothing will ever exceed my feelings at that supreme moment.” Dior later wrote in his biography.

christian dior biography
Photo source: Christian Dior in 1950Christian Dior home in Granville, gardens at Le Rhumbs, Christian Dior at home aged 11-12, Christian Dior original sketch, Dior in his gardens, Christian Dior's lucky star, Maison Christian Dior, Christian Dior & his staff, Christian Dior at 30 Avenue Montagne, Christian Dior is working on a beaded couture gown for the Libre Haute Couture 1957 collection, Aloetine from Christian Dior Profilee Autumn/Winter 1952 collection, Christian Dior The bar suit, New look collection 1947, Christian Dior 1950s, via Dior, Vogue, Ritournelle, Round World Photo & Dior by Alexander Palmer

The story of Christian Dior stockings

26/04/2012

Christian Dior stockings - vintage campaigns 1950-1960s
“A leg without hosiery is like a face without make-up.”
Christian Dior

Christian Dior stockings were a symbol of luxury. Women were craving beautiful hosiery they were deprived of during the war and having a pair of French stockings, especially from the Maison Dior, was quite a treat.

The stockings were advertised as “the finest stockings in the world” and carefully designed to enhance the legs. Every collection consisted of 20 French-named shades to suit time of the day (“muted tones for day and subtle flower tones for evening”)and compliment the couture pieces.

Dior spent a lot of time researching the process and learning about the latest innovations and fabrics. He changed the ankle reinforcement design to prevent stockings from twisting and create an elegant line that made the leg appear longer and ankle – narrower. The stockings were available in five sizes, two length and three different weights for country, city and evening wear.

In 1953 the house introduced a new collection of most resistant nylons in four shades. The Dior-Sport stockings were for the active women and most appropriate for walking, driving, weekends in a country and golfing.

The revolutionary invention of a bare leg look also took place in 1953 when Dior summer stockings became seamless, with no visible reinforcements in the heel and toe.

Finally, in 1955, Maison Dior launched a one-size stockings that would also be wrinkle-free, something so novel that it was quickly named “stocking heresy”.

Christian Dior stockings - vintage campaigns 1950-1960s
By the late 1950s Dior stockings were sold in 3650 boutiques, each generating over $2 million in sales. Using local producers around the world meant that the stocking design could be easily adjusted according to different body types and skin tones of women in different countries while also profiting from the new technical knowledge of each individual manufacturer. At the same time Dior stockings were always linked to the historic French craft roots which was always reflected in advertisements, whether it was a Rene Gruau’s drawing based on a Degas dancer or a familiar location such as Arc de Triumphe.

Just like perfumes, French stockings became a luxury item most women could afford and have a little bit of Dior couture in their lives.

Based on: Dior by Alexander Palmer / Photo source: Christian Dior stockings ad by Rene Gruau 1952, Dior by Alexander Palmer

Stylish quote

25/04/2012

Dior Couture in Couture report | 10 Magazine June 2009 (photography: Jason Lloyd-Evans)
"Fashion is always right - it has a fundamental rightness which those who create it, like those who follow it, often know nothing about."

Christian Dior

Photo source: Dior Couture in Couture report | 10 Magazine June 2009 (photography: Jason Lloyd-Evans)

The story of Christian Dior perfumes

24/04/2012

Christian Dior Diorama vintage perfume ad by Rene Gruau via fashioned by love
“A woman's perfume tells more about her than her handwriting.”
Christian Dior

In the late 1940s France was known for its wine, fashion and perfume that were the most important French exports. For a fashion house having its own perfume meant reaching a wider audience and increasing its profits by significant amounts. Even those who couldn’t afford a Dior dress, would buy a perfume. A little piece of luxury would made a woman feel like a Dior woman, elegant, beautiful and one-of-a-kind without costing a fortune.

Even before the house of Dior was opened, Christian Dior was approached by Serge Heftler-Louiche, his old friend who first worked for Coty and then started his own business.

In 1947 they created “Miss Dior”.

Christian Dior Miss Dior vintage perfume ad by Rene Gruau
The new fragrance was designed by Paul Vacher  with Dior’s personal involvement. “Create a fragrance that is like love,” he requested. The perfume, a delicate bouquet of Egyptian jasmine, Patchouli and tuberose, became an instant hit. It felt modern, but also feminine and romantic combining all the things women craved in those post-war times.

Miss Dior by Christian Dior vintage Baccarat crystal perfume bottle c. 1947-1950s
The luxury version was presented in a crystal flacon made by Baccarat, while the more affordable one included a modern looking bottle engraved in a hound’s-tooth motif that was frequently used by the house for their daywear designs. The name was inspired by Dior’s sister, Catherine, who walked in his boutique one day and was greeted by Mitzah Bricard “Look, there is Miss Dior!” And the “Miss Dior” was born.

More than a litre of perfume was sprinkled all over the Dior boutique daily and soon it was immediately associated with the spirit of Maison Dior and became its haute couture perfume.

Christian Dior Dior Miss Dior, Diorama, Diorissimo & Diorling perfumes by Rene Gruau
The “Diorama”, an intoxicating, passionate and sensual perfume, created by Edmond Roudnitska in 1949, combined the notes of bergamot, peach, jasmine, tuberose and gardenia with the warming spicy and velvety clove, nutmeg, sandal wood and cedar, “to dress every woman with a trail of desire”.

Christian Dior Diorama perfume vintage ad by Rene Gruau
It was in autumn to become the cold weather fragrance as most women used to wear different perfumes depending on the seasons’. The crystal bottle designed by Fernand Guerry-Colas, was a true object d’art with its lines inspired by the obelisk in Place de la Concorde.

By the mid 1950s Christian Dior sold 500000 bottles of “Miss Dior” and “Diorama” annually in 87 countries. They were later followed by “Diorissimo” that became the most expensive exported perfume ever sold and “Eau Fraiche” launched in 1956.

Christian Dior Dior Miss Dior, Diorama, Diorissimo & Diorling perfumes by Rene Gruau
Photo source: Christian Dior Diorama vintage perfume ad by Rene Gruau, Christian Dior Miss Dior vintage perfume ad by Rene Gruau, Miss Dior by Christian Dior vintage Baccarat crystal perfume bottle c. 1947-1950s via Find Museum, Christian Dior Miss Dior & Diorissimo perfume ads by Rene Gruau, Christian Dior Diorama perfume ad by Rene Gruau, Diorissimo by Christian Dior vintage perfume ad, Christian Dior Dior Miss Dior, Diorama, Diorissimo & Diorling perfumes by Rene Gruau

Celebrating Dior

23/04/2012

Izabel Goulart wearing Christian Dior in Happy Birthday Dior | Elle UK October 2007 (photography: Bert Stern, styling: Aleksandra Woroniecka) wearing John Galliano for Dior Fall/Winter 2007
Christian Dior by John Galliano Fall/Winter 2007

In 2007 the house of Dior celebrated its 60th and John Galliano’s 10th anniversaries. To mark such an important moment in the history of the Maison, British Elle asked Bert Stern, a fashion photographer famous for the images of Marilyn Monroe in Dior taken during the three-day "Last Sitting" session, to create a story based on the looks from the past collections and showcase some of the most memorable Dior designs that stood the test of time.

In 2012, after two months of deliberation, I've made a decision to use the editorial as my first post of the "Dior series". Talking about Dior was, indeed, an obvious choice, yet almost a cliche for anyone and everyone would have written something about the designer by now. Finally, the decision was made... 

If you love Dior as much as I do and know a lot about him, then enjoy the imagery and treat it as a refresher. And if you are only just beginning to discover the world of fashion, the story of Dior is certainly one of those you need to be familiar with.
Izabel Goulart wearing Christian Dior in Happy Birthday Dior | Elle UK October 2007 (photography: Bert Stern, styling: Aleksandra Woroniecka) wearing John Galliano for Dior Fall/Winter 2007
Christian Dior by John Galliano Fall/Winter 2007
Izabel Goulart wearing Christian Dior in Happy Birthday Dior | Elle UK October 2007 (photography: Bert Stern, styling: Aleksandra Woroniecka) wearing Yves Saint Laurent for Dior 1960
Christian Dior by Yves Saint Laurent Spring/Summer 1960
Izabel Goulart wearing Christian Dior in Happy Birthday Dior | Elle UK October 2007 (photography: Bert Stern, styling: Aleksandra Woroniecka) wearing Christian Dior 1953 jacket and Gianfranco Ferre for Dior 1994 bow scarf
Christian Dior Spring/Summer 1953 (coat) & Christian Dior by Gianfranco Ferre 1994 bow created for Sophia Loren’s character in the Net-a-Porter movie
Izabel Goulart wearing Christian Dior in Happy Birthday Dior | Elle UK October 2007 (photography: Bert Stern, styling: Aleksandra Woroniecka) wearing Marc Bohan for Christian Dior  1963
Christian Dior by Marc Bohan 1963
Izabel Goulart wearing Christian Dior in Happy Birthday Dior | Elle UK October 2007 (photography: Bert Stern, styling: Aleksandra Woroniecka) wearing Christian Dior 1956/57 dress and Christian Dior 1950 hat
Christian Dior Fall/Winter 1956/1957 dress & Christian Dior Fall/Winter 1950 hat
Izabel Goulart wearing Christian Dior in Happy Birthday Dior | Elle UK October 2007 (photography: Bert Stern, styling: Aleksandra Woroniecka) wearing Christian Dior Fall/Winter 1948
Christian Dior Fall/Winter 1948
Izabel Goulart wearing Christian Dior in Happy Birthday Dior | Elle UK October 2007 (photography: Bert Stern, styling: Aleksandra Woroniecka) wearing Christian Dior
Printed off-white jacket by Christian Dior 

Photo source: Izabel Goulart wearing Christian Dior in Happy Birthday Dior | Elle UK October 2007 (photography: Bert Stern, styling: Aleksandra Woroniecka)

My favourite fashion apps for iPad

20/04/2012

I promise, this is the last iPad-related post for a while, but I just had, I really had to share some of my favourite finds with you. When I first got my iPad, I downloaded dozens of fashion and style related applications. These are the ones I tried, tested and chose to keep because they are either very useful and interesting or simply because they are very beautiful.

STYLE.COM A must-have for anyone interested in fashion. You get an access to 10 years worth of ready-to-wear and haute couture shows, beautiful runaway images, videos and party coverage. {free}
THE CUT The latest news, catwalk reports and looks to inspire. {free}

THE COLLECTION Created by the New York Times, it merges the news, trends, street reports and catwalk shows - all beautifully presented on your screen in a click-on-picture-to-find-out-more format. {free}

THE DAILY W Your daily dose of W magazine featuring exclusive fashion content, latest news, celebrity interviews, accessories reports, beauty and travel advise and occasional giveaways from the top designers. Includes a very useful Favourites folder that allows you to keep everything you’d like to remember in one place. {free)

LOVE MAGAZINE Allows you to download the latest issue. Includes videos, editorial photo coverage and interviews. I really love the simple and clean presentation. {free}

INTERVIEW View the original magazine content that comes alive on your screen. Absolutely brilliant! {free}

SELF SERVICE Another wonderful addition for the fashion library as it allows you to read the magazine on your iPad without having to run around looking for a print copy, which may not always be easy to find. editorials come alive when you least expect it. {free}

THE EVER CHANGING FACE OF BEAUTY Presented by W magazine and created by Sølve Sundsbø this interactive video features Lara Stone and David Agbodji. Enchanting and magical, very much like a dream. If you don’t feel like starting at your screen, you can simply enjoy the music by James Lavelle and Charlie May. Or have a little play by sliding parts of an on-screen image to create something quite unique. {free}

DIOR DAIRY An electronic diary with a very chic layout that includes images from Dior’s Be Iconic campaign. {free}

VALENTINO Everything you want to know about the brand: latest collections, look books, fashion show videos, ad campaign and video news. {free}

TOD’S: AN ITALIAN DREAM A short movie celebrating the quality and traditions of “Made in Italy” craftsmanship. Dancing on Teatro alla Scala’s famous stage and throughout the theatre’s balconies and corridors, thirteen ballet dancers from Teatro alla Scala directed by Matthias Zentner and choreographed by Gianluca Schiavoni, interpret the passion and creative talent of the Tod’s artisans. Includes behind the scenes and craftsmanship videos. {free}

MY LITTLE PARIS Not so much about fashion, but it’s just such a beautiful app that I have to add it to the list. Includes charming illustration by Japanese illustrator Kanako Kuno, e-cards, 360 degree views of the city from the roof tops, secret addresses and interactive features. {free}
Photo source: The Independent

Stylish quote

18/04/2012

Caroline Trentini in Alexander The Great | Vogue US May 2011 (photography: Steven Meisel, styling: Grace Coddington)
"A dress could be seen as a piece of art, but a piece of art with added value in its functionality."

Consuelo Castiglioni

Photo source: Caroline Trentini in Alexander The Great | Vogue US May 2011 (photography: Steven Meisel, styling: Grace Coddington)

Franca Sozzani on fashion and eating disorders

12/04/2012

Franca Sozzani
A few days ago Franca Sozzani, the editor-in-chief of Italian Vogue who was recently honoured with the Legion of Honour for being someone who is not afraid of making waves on the way to making change, published a very powerful and honest letter discussing the reasons and factors that may cause the illness.

She wrote: “In the '70s the blame was laid exclusively on parents and later fashion was also accused because it portrayed thin models. Today the real culprit seems to be Facebook, according to a survey carried out by the University of Haifa, Israel, among teenage girls aged between 12 and 19.”

As a fashion insider, Sozzani explained that “models are in most cases naturally long, lean and slender being still very young and still not fully developed. This is a topic that has been often discussed with false prejudice against fashion when nobody was left to blame.”

The issues were talked about in even greater depth during the Harvard speech on 2 April. Although Sozzani admitted that “fashion became one of the causes”, she emphasised that it is only the tip of the iceberg and the real causes, including “negative family and social influences, the feeling of being subjected to too much pressure or too high expectations or, conversely, to parental neglect, being ridiculed over one’s body shape or feeling unable to reach one’s goals in connection with the way one looks or with weight” can be easily overlooked and ignored.

While questioning “what lead us to establish that thin is beautiful and that thinness is the aesthetic code we should follow?”, she, however, rightly points that “obesity is another appalling phenomenon among eating disorders is also on the rise” and yet the food industry that uses media to promote unhealthy foods and miracle diet shakes is getting away with it.

“I can accept that fashion may exaggerate, but I cannot help but mention all the negative tools that society employs to spread false information on food and aesthetics. How can all this be possibly caused by fashion?”

Since the speech and letter were published, the media has produced several articles to criticize Sozzani’s actions and every single word she said. The quotes were chosen and sometimes twisted to suit the stories that generated dozens of angry hateful comments once they went live.

It made me feel rather sad. I know that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but so far, the opinion many journalists and readers have developed hasn’t improved anything or taken us in a right direction. To me, it feels like they’d rather eat their cake and blame fashion for feeling guilty about it.
At this point, I applaud Franca for her honesty and efforts and wish there were more people like her out there who aren’t afraid to speak out.

Photo source: sunchasers