Christian Dior hadn't opened his own House before falling under the charm of Provence, discovering it after his father, ruined by the financial crash of 1929, settled with his sister at Callian, near Grasse. The wild beauty of nature and the smells of the region inspired him, and it was memories of the special atmosphere of the South that informed the creation in1947 of his first perfume, Miss Dior. In 1951, at the height of his glory, he reconnected with his passion for the area by buying La Colle Noire, an estate he would go on to transform into a haven dedicated to art, friendship and creation, far removed from his frenetic Paris existence. Located in Montauroux, the “château of Monsieur Dior” is an agricultural estate that the couturier restored as a veritable Eden, covered with hectares of vines, almond and olive trees, centifolia roses and Grasse jasmine. In his memoirs he noted: “Living in a house that doesn't reflect who you are is akin to wearing someone else's clothes”.
Through photographs, illustrations, archival documents, and the texts written by the journalist Laurence Benaïm, the book Christian Dior in the South of France invites the reader to travel through the landscapes of this reclaimed earthly paradise, where the heart of Dior perfumes beats stronger today than ever. The House has also managed to revive the magic of La Colle Noire to the level the couturier-perfumer intended; the house was restored, its eclectic décor dreamed up by Dior himself, mixing Provençal style with Louis XVI furniture. Watercolors by Jean-Philippe Delhomme pay homage to the moments spent in Monsieur Dior’s beloved South, at La Colle Noire and the surrounding area, with his artist friends such as the painters Marc Chagall and Bernard Buffet, the illustrator René Gruau, and the actress Olivia de Havilland. The book also takes us to Grasse, to Les Fontaines Parfumées where today François Demachy conceives the Dior perfumes; and into the fields of the Domaine de Manon and the Clos de Callian which grow Grasse roses and jasmine grandiflorum exclusively for the House. Ultimately, this guide to Christian Dior’s favorite addresses allows readers a glimpse inside extraordinary places, some famous, some less so, some for food or culture, to which the couturier-perfumer loved to head behind the wheel of his convertible.
Christian Dior and the South of France, Rizzoli
RRP: €85 / $95