Christian Dior and Germany, 1947 to 1957
With the launch of his first collection, in February 1947, Christian Dior revolutionised international fashion at one bold stroke. The most celebrated German fashion photographers, Horst P. Horst and Willy Maywald, along with the best illustrator of the day, René Gruau, memorably staged the Dior New Look. The stylish poses they captured put the finishing touch to the silhouette that Dior (then 42 years old) knew was just what was needed after the rigours of wartime austerity: feminine sloping shoulders, exquisitely wasp-waisted bodices, extravagantly wide calf-length skirts and elegant accessories. The opening of the House of Dior and the launch of his first haute couture collection on 12 February 1947 were synonymous with the rebirth of fashion.
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The New Look (Dior himself spoke of it as the Ligne Corolle) actually represented a reversion to the glorious days of the Belle Epoque, when luxury and pleasure were indulged in without remorse—signified by nipped-in waists, extraordinary lavishness with fabrics and wide cartwheel hats.
Dior not only provided a welcome return to middle-class values and traditional gender roles; he restored monarchies to their ancient glory: Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth II and Soraya, first wife of the Shah of Persia, were just a few famous names on the Dior roll of royal clients. .
Even Germany was swept by a Dior craze fanned by glamorous Dior fashion shows staged between 1949 and 1953 and the royal progress of the master himself through West Germany in 1955. There were German products licensed by Dior, notably the celebrated Bijoux Christian Dior made by Henkel & Grosse in Pforzheim. No other fashion designer before or since has shaped tastes as Christian Dior did in the brief decade of his creative flowering. Cosmopolitan ladies could rely on the impeccably stylish Dior label. The master himself had only ten years at the pinnacle of fame. He died of a heart attack on 23 October 1957.
An exceptional book on fashion and a tribute to a great couturier, one of the prime movers and shapers of 20th-century fashion.