Monsieur Dior: once upon a time

08/04/2015

"He was a Monsieur... A French euphemism for a class act."

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.

Christian Dior & Renee photographed by Henry Clarke / Monsieur Dior: Once Upon a Time / Book review / fashion books / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
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.

Christian Dior at his home at boulevard Jules Sandeau / Monsieur Dior: Once Upon a Time / Book review / fashion books / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
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...

Christian Dior leaving for vacation in August 1957, last official portrait before his death three months later / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
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.

Christian Dior & his team  / Monsieur Dior: Once Upon a Time / Book review / fashion books / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
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...

Christian Dior working with a model in 1953  / Monsieur Dior: Once Upon a Time / Book review / fashion books / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
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.

Christian Dior boutique in 1955/ Monsieur Dior: Once Upon a Time / Book review / fashion books / via fashioned by love british fashion blog
Photo source: Dior adjusting the neckline of his model's dress in preparation for the Millieu du Siecle collection from 1949 film directed by Henri Lavorel, Christian Dior & Renee photographed by Henry Clarke, Christian Dior at his home at boulevard Jules Sandeau photographed by Cecile Beaton, Christian Dior leaving for vacation in August 1957, last official portrait before his death three months later, Christian Dior & his team, Christian Dior working with a model in 1953 photographed by Marc Shaw, Christian Dior boutique in 1955 photographed by Victor Granierre, all from Monsieur Dior: once upon a time

16 comments:

  1. I want to read it too, he is my myth. Plus the images are so mesmerizing. Kisses Natalia! xo

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    1. I love the images, too, they make me daydream. :)
      x

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  2. this would be lovely for me as i am not that familiar with the history of dior, only a love for the brand. thank you for your words of comfort on my post yesterday.

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    1. You are welcome, Elle! And yes, this book would make a really good first Dior read. Hope you will enjoy it! x

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  3. I don't know how it's possible that I hadn't yet heard of this book but I'm very glad you decided to share it, Natalia. I've long been fascinated by Christian Dior and the way he revolutionized fashion for such a brief moment before his brilliant career was cut short. I will be adding this to my book shelf as soon as possible!
    xox,
    Cee

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    1. I hope you'll enjoy it - it's so beautiful, even the moment you you open the box and unwrap it... Feels very special. x

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  4. These images are just beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

    xo

    Michaela

    http://michaelajeanblog.com

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/MichaelaJeanArt

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  5. I'm fascinated by your words Natalya, your knowledge of the history of fashion is very deep. And when you review a book, as it happened before, I'm enraptured and want to run and buy it. Was it you that suggested the Small dictionary of fashion by Christian Dior? Some time ago you mentioned some bits of your personal story and bringing up, how your parents encouraged you to be curious and study. I would love to hear more :-) thank you for the wonderful review dear! Baci,
    Coco et La vie en rose fashion blog - Valeria Arizzi

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    1. I probably did, because I used that little book several times as a reference and for the quotes. :) I adore it. And thank you so much for your warm words, Valeria! x

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  6. What an informative post, I love the way you write! The photo of the model's dress being adjusted is particularly lovely

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice

    x

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    1. Thank you! As for the dress - check the Friday post to see it move and sparkle, it's just mesmerising! x

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  7. Natalia... You are GUILTY! I need this in my life as soon as... yesterday!
    Thanks for the review, I am actually going to get it :)
    Edita
    http://www.pret-a-reporter.co.uk/

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  8. I love learning the history of a person or businesses beginnings. This book is so regal Natalia. What a beautiful addition to your bookshelf.
    http://www.averysweetblog.com/

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  9. Мне очень понравились снимки, было чрезвычайно интересно рассматривать все эти детали, эти совершенно иные лица смотрящие на нас из прошлого. Я вообще очень люблю такие фотографии с налетом ретро. Отличная книга, Наташа! Я не знаю, было ли бы мне интересно прочесть ее от корки до корки, все таки я люблю немного иной жанр, но все же полистать и задержаться на некоторых страницах было бы здорово)

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    1. Саш, мне кажется, тебе бы понравилось... Она затягивает и больше похожа на роман, чем на биографию. Плюс, фотографии, их там много и они замечательные. Кстати, загляни в пятничный пост... для дозы ретро и красоты. x

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  10. so interesting, nice blog!

    http://latravelera.blogspot.com

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