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28th July
Heritage

Versailles: Grand Bal

Christian Dior greatly admired the splendor and elegance of the festivities that took place at Versailles. Today, the House is inspired by the palace’s lavish balls in designing iconic creations, such as the Dior VIII Grand Bal watch, featuring in a new campaign, or the Grand Bal fragrance.

Parties are a necessity as they bring happiness,” wrote Christian Dior. Cherishing the moments of happiness and interaction with friends, the couturier-perfumer had a deep fascination for the fantastical soirées organized at the Palace of Versailles. From the head-turning dresses to the grandiose receptions, Christian Dior transposed this unique and festive spirit into his creations.

The Dior VIII Grand Bal watch, launched in 2011, is an invitation to celebrate time. Its singularity comes from its Dior Inversé caliber: the openworked oscillating weight of the automatic movement is placed on top of the dial to evoke the graceful twirl of a ball gown. Produced by the best craftspeople, in the prestigious workshops of La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland, it is then decorated by hand. Feathers, lace, diamonds, silk, or mother-of-pearl are arranged like the flounces of a swirling skirt. The watch is a jewel that recalls the glittering parures and majestic celebrations held at Versailles. This year, the latest creation called Dior VIII Grand Bal Plissé adorns a diamond dial with a pink silk ribbon and an elegant black leather strap.

To extend this dance, the Grand Bal fragrance from La Collection Privée Christian Dior expresses the sweet headiness of a summer soirée. "Grand Bal is an echo of the splendid ball gowns of Christian Dior, its magnitude and beauty evoking the blooming petals of a jasmine flower. The scent of Grasse jasmine is unique, characterized by its multitude of facets and its breadth,” explains François Demachy, Dior’s exclusive perfumer-creator, who composed the fragrance to capture the spirit of the Versailles gala evenings.

28th July
Heritage

Versailles: The Dior Golds

A symbol of refinement, richness and power, the gold that embellishes Versailles inspired Christian Dior in his day, and today is one of the House codes.

« Dior, this nimble genius unique to our age, whose magical name combines God and gold Dieu and or”. With these words, Jean Cocteau highlighted the connection between gold and the couturier’s creative universe. This exceptional element had immediately acquired a privileged position in the work of Christian Dior who regarded Versailles as an inexhaustible source of inspiration. Gold appeared from 1947 with the Aladin dress in champagne gold silk, and in 1949 with the dress Pactole. Apart from the material itself, it was the 18th-century luxury he admired, such as the meticulous application of gold leaf with a small brush. In his creations, Christian Dior made use of brocade and gold thread to draw attention to or elevate a detail. The Indienne dress of 1947 was also composed of gold embroideries and beading, while the dress Soirée Fleurie, in 1956, was described as being in “ivory satin embroidered with stars, and gold, silver and blue threads and broad plate”.

In a conference held at the Université de la Sorbonne in 1957, Christian Dior explained: “Ornament, though it has lost its symbolic value for us, remains an integral part of the dress, not an afterthough. Thus we find high-relief embroideries or gold or silver threads or beads studding a material as light as tulle.” The precious metal inspires the House’s creations today more than ever: it’s the color of the radiant perfume J’adore, like a shimmering silk to be worn on the skin; and it ran like a leitmotiv throughout the latest haute couture collection.

 

27th July
Heritage

Dior Immortalized at Versailles

Fascinated by the Palace of Versailles, Christian Dior saw some of his most beautiful creations immortalized there. The tradition continues with today's most prestigious photographers. 

©

Association Willy Maywald/ADAGP, Paris 2016

1952 saw a shoot by Georges Saad take place in the Palace of Versailles and its gardens for the magazine L’Art et la Mode. The aim? To draw attention to the palace's renovation project and give a fresh injection of life to the age-old savoir-faire. Christian Dior was, unsurprisingly, one of the first to participate. The couturier regularly called upon the greatest artists to immortalize his creations and set them among the splendor of Versailles. From the first collection, in 1947, the German photographer Willy Maywald took numerous shots of the designs in this location imbued with mystery and magic. The volumes and pleats of the dresses Suède and France are set off against the marble courtyard’s architectural lines. Inside the palace, the highly sophisticated Fêtes à Trianon and Bal à Trianon look ready to twirl in the Hall of Mirrors. Clifford Coffin also recorded the grace of certain outfits, such as the Coquette dress in the Grand Trianon peristyle.

Today, the world's biggest photographers continue to feature Dior at Versailles: Patrick Demarchelier captured the House's iconic creations in the palace's most majestic rooms, while Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, as well as Steven Klein, have shot Secret Garden campaigns in the grand apartments and traditional French gardens. Versailles has also been the setting for the perfume J’adore, as embodied by the actress Charlize Theron captured by Jean-Jacques Anaud in 2011, and after by Jean-Baptiste Mondino in 2014. 

27th July
Heritage

Versailles: The Bow

Drawn from the glory days of the Palace of Versailles, Christian Dior’s beloved bow remains one of the most emblematic of House codes.  

©

Association Willy Maywald/ADAGP, Paris 2016

The bow appeared in Christian Dior’s very first collection, presented on 12 February 1947, set at the waist of the Bleuette dress, tied at the shoulders of the Ballet dress and on the bust of the dress Maxim’s. A few years later the bow would also adorn the neck of the Miss Dior bottle. In his Little Dictionary of Fashion, the couturier explained his fondness for this accessory: I love when bows finish a neckline, embellish a hat, fasten a belt.  Whether small, large or enormous, I like them in all styles and all materials.” More than an ornament, they contribute to the identity of the garment, being sometimes its structure, its spine.

Christian Dior was particularly fond of the Fontanges bow. Its name comes from the 18th century, when the Duchesse Marie-Angélique de Fontanges, a mistress to the king, tied up her wind-tousled hair with a ribbon from her garter, the softly knotted and romantic bow spilling onto her forehead. Adored by Christian Dior, it became an indispensable code and even sits atop the House’s oval cartouches. 

27th July
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