Guilty as charged - I should, absolutely should, have told you about this book earlier. Frankly, I should have bought it sooner, too, for I somehow ended up waiting until it was almost winter and then, finally, treated myself to the tome as an early Christmas present.
Written by Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni, a Paris-based English author, Monsieur Dior: once upon a time was described as a behind-the-scenes look into the House of Dior, its beautiful inhabitants and life of the founder. My sceptical mind perceived the news as both a curious fact that may enhance my Dior knowledge, but also a possibility of buying a book based on gossips and anecdotes and hating myself for doing so as a result.
Weeks later I saw the photos of Natasha and realised that a beautiful and elegant woman like this would not degrade herself to a dirty gossip, nor use it as a way to gain publicity - she didn't need either. Her mother, Lady Antonia Fraser, has written several historical books and novels including the English translation of Christian Dior & I and Marie Anoinette: the journey that was later made into a well-known film directed by Sofia Coppola. Natasha's late father, Sir Hugh Fraser, was known for his talent as a writer, and her step-father, Harold Pinter, was the 2005 Nobel laureate in Literature. Natasha published her first book, Sam Spiegel, in 2003 after researching it for almost 10 years, has written for Interview, Women's Wear Daily, W, Glamour, Vogue and Forbes, and even spent some time working at Chanel designer studio. She sounded fascinating and definitely like a kind of author whom you would trust someone as special as Dior.
"The name Christian Dior stood for something very special" Lauren Bacall
Monsieur Dior: once upon a time arrived in a beautiful due of trianon gris or "Dior grey" box lined with silver tissue paper - a rather special touch that I sincerely appreciated. Moments later, as soon as I switched my attention from the sumptuous packaging to the book itself, I was lost, powerless to resist the beautiful words...
From the early childhood and the opening of Maison Dior to the sudden death of Christian Dior, it was an intimate tale told by the in-house models, assistants, designers and faithful clients, including Lauren Bacall, Pierre Cardin, Pierre Berge, Countess Cristiana Brandolini D'Adda, Olivia de Havilland, John Fairchild and Victoire Doutreleau, each adding their own feelings and memories, making the history come alive, shine, and inspire. Never before I learned so many details about the process of creating a dress or the secrets that would only be shared among the selected few.
"Thanks to him, my life took a certain turn. Otherwise I would have not advanced." Hubert de Givenchy
As I turned pages, the life of Monsieur Dior and his wonderful, almost magical, "modest and luxurious" house unfolded before my eyes: the daily routine of orders and sales, the models, or cheries, coming in, gathering in their cabine, the Maison team working on the dresses, Dior ladies stopping by for the "enchanting experience", fittings or attending a presentation, and, of course, the muses. Those were the people who forever changed the history of the Maison whether by suggesting small changes to the design, introducing a revolutionary print, creating new looks or having a talent to present a collection. Without them the life of Dior would not have been the same, just like their own personal and professional lives would not have been the same without Monsieur Dior.
Victoire who, at the start of her career, wasn't accepted by anyone, but Dior, became one of the most iconic French models of all times... There would be "no Dior, no Dietrich"... Or Saint Laurent... Or all those designer perfumes and accessories made accessible to every woman thanks to Dior's vision of the future and the licensing deals he introduced...
Monsieur Dior: once upon a time made other titles about the designer fade a little, almost as if those were just the silhouettes in a colouring book that Fraser-Cavassoni finally filled with a rainbow. The amount of research that went into this beautiful tome and the photographs, some of which have never been published until now, made it a very emotional, warm and captivating read - impossible to put down and a must have for your Dior library.
Monsieur Dior: once upon a time