The Christian Dior museum in Granville pays tribute to women, whether famous or unknown, without whom a couture house would never have existed, and presents a modern and sensitive "haute couture" gallery of over forty public figures who wore Dior between 1947 and 2016.
"Women, with their intuitive instinct, understood that I dreamed not only of making them more beautiful, but happier too."
In the "Femmes en Dior" (Women in Dior) exhibition, the dresses and accessories reveal the personalities of the women who have worn them. Monsieur Dior and his successors saw haute couture as an everyday art form in which every moment counts, be it the simplicity of the daytime or the sumptuousness of a grand soirée.A dress from the Dior label, which is chosen by the client during the catwalk show, then cut and assembled to fit the their measurements perfectly, leaves the world of dressmaking and enters the intimate history of the woman who wears it. It is no longer simply the fruit of the designer's imagination; with the embodiment of his models by a single woman, the couturier's work is complete.Over the course of the exhibition, visitors discover dresses, photographs, paintings, drawings and letters that evoke the allure and personality of these women, whose pieces are selected and presented to illustrate the events of their lives spent wearing Dior.
Ms Bricard is one of those rare people whose only reason for living is elegance.
Mitzah Bricard had been chosen by Christian Dior for her experience as well as for her international contacts. Having worked as a designer at Doucet and at Molyneux and created the fashion department at Balenciaga, she had a very unusual way of "stabbing a fabric with her eyes" or "falling in love with a bold colour."
From 1947 she is said to have inspired Christian Dior to use the "jungle" print, as well as the colour lilac, her favourite shade. She embodied "a sense of elegance pushed to its pinnacle. Unclassifiable, she is unique. She is part of nothing and dares everything."
At Dior, she brought "a touch of excess", "a hint of scandal". Time passes, but her aura remains. A fragrance, Mitzah, was dedicated to her in 2010, as part of the Collection Privée Christian Dior.
Snatched from boredom, from the harshness of protocol, and the anxieties of an injured woman, Diana appeared to be reborn.
In 1995, France's first lady Bernadette Chirac gave the symbolic gift of a brand new Dior bag to the Princess of Wales during her official visit to Paris. Princess Diana was besotted with this accessory, which she ordered in several colours and carried during various public appearances. In tribute to Lady Diana, the leather bag, stitched to form a cannage motif and with semi-circular handles, was renamed the Lady Dior.
Diana reinvented princely glamour. In December 1996, a recently divorced Diana was again a free woman and seemed to want to declare it to the whole world: during a gala evening at New York's Costume Institute to mark the 50th anniversary of Dior, she wore a deep blue dress designed for her by John Galliano. It was one of the couturier's first creations under the Dior signature.
Whether strolling through the Hall of Mirrors in a gown shimmering with light or posing for the Dior magazine in a mesh slip, her strength of character appears infinite.
Rihanna, Dior's first black muse who starred in the Secret Garden advertising campaign filmed at the Palace of Versailles by Steven Klein in 2015, is also the third most influential public figure in the world on Facebook.
The star appeared at the charity Diamond Ball in a Dior Haute Couture bustier dress and cape in champagne silk satin, celebrating with panache the marriage of R’n’B and grand French tradition.
The sumptuous Barbadian knows how to reinvent herself as a brunette or redhead, thrilling her public in her Dior Haute Couture dress in taffeta and hand-painted silk tulle at the 2011 Grammy Awards.
Granville, the Home of Legend
Granville Museum is housed in the former family home of the designer, an edifice characteristic of the Norman coast. In his youth, Christian Dior would gaze out at sweeping sea views and enjoy with his mother the flowerbeds, pergola, rose garden and sea pines of the ornate garden they laid out together.
Granville, the Home of Legend
> Les Rhumbs Villa, childhood home of Christian Dior
> Christian Dior's love of flowers and gardens
> Christian Dior Museum opens at the former family home in Granville
Les Rhumbs Villa, childhood home of Christian Dior
When Madeleine Dior first laid eyes on this villa - which resembles more a sturdy little manor than a stylish residence - she decided to make it her own. With a similar strength of conviction to that displayed by her son Christian many years later with regard to the mansion at 30, Avenue Montaigne. Back in 1905, the future designer still an infant, Madeleine persuaded Maurice Dior to purchase the house with the neverending vistas. The property perched above Granville, a mere kilometre outside what was “a sleepy port town for nine months of the year and (in summer turned into) an elegant quarter of Paris”. His was quite a childhood in the isolated confines of the house. Christian would wile away the hours learning by heart the names of plants and flowers from Vilmorin-Andrieux seed catalogues; listening to the women sing hit of the day « L’Hirondelle de Faubourg » in the warmth of the laundry room; gazing up at the ceiling rose in his bedroom. Christian Dior always thought of Granville with “a nostalgia for stormy nights, foghorns, the death knell sounding a funeral and the Norman drizzle in the midst of which (his childhood) was spent”. He tended the flame of Granville for the rest of his days, recreating the spirit of the place in colours (pink and grey), scents (rose and lily-of-the-valley), sturdy, elegant shapes, and an atmosphere of sheltered peacefulness that befits a family home.
Christian Dior's love of flowers and gardens
« The garden that guarded my childhood » is how Christian Dior described the garden of the villa in which he was raised in Granville, Normandy. His mother, Madeleine, was a keen gardener. Christian inherited her love of flowers and was fascinated by the shapes, colours and poetry of this joyous, generous slice of nature. He spent much of his time engrossed in seed catalogues where he learnt by heart the Latin names of the flowers. He delved into landscaping in his teenage years, designing a pool and pergola for the garden of the family home. The young Dior saw the garden as a temple of beauty, calm and contemplation, and his prodigious insight remains to this day a manifesto for landscapers all over the world. He loved flowers most of all. When he became a designer, he wanted them everywhere. Dior dreamt of a world filled with flower-women and attributed floral names to his creations. He endowed with the grace of a rose every one of his dresses, whose meticulous structures and beautiful fabrics and embroidery gave an impression of fragility and infinite beauty. Calices, petals, pistils and stamens rendered in minute detail on evening gowns resembled the work of a brilliant botanist. Between 1947 and 1957 Dior named more than 50 models after roses.
Christian Dior Museum opens at the former family home in Granville
History had in store darker days for Les Rhumbs. The family were staying at Granville when the First World War broke out. They chose not to return to Paris, retreating instead behind the comforting walled safety of the villa and garden. Staunchly loyal to the Allied Forces, this safe haven became one of the first casualties of the Dior family's bankruptcy in the wake of the 1929 crash. Acquired by the town, its furnishings were dispersed. Its park became a public garden in 1938, and in 1997 the villa came to hold the Christian Dior museum.
WOMEN IN DIOR
5 MAY - 25 SEPTEMBER 2016
CHRISTIAN DIOR MUSEUM
1 rue d'Estouteville, 50400 Granville, France Tel.: +33 (0)2 33 61 48 21