Follow in the footsteps of Christian Dior before he had become a couturier, at the time when he counted the biggest names in art - Jean Cocteau, Salvador Dali, Marc Chagall, and many more yet to be discovered - as his friends.

"How did I get to know my friends? Coming from different backgrounds, we met each other by chance, or at the discretion rather of those mysterious laws Goethe baptized elective affinities,"   the couturier noted in his autobiography Dior by Dior. "We were simply brought together as painters, writers, musicians and decorators, under the aegis of Jean Cocteau and Max Jacobs."  In the excitement of the Roaring Twenties, the young Christian Dior lived his life to the full all the while aware that he was forming unfaltering bonds of friendship with some of the 20th century’s most brilliant artists and intellectuals.

Through the intercession of a Dutch friend, the future couturier met the composer Henri Sauguet. During evenings spent in the Dior family apartment, this small circle played musical compositions. And, in the low light, seated on the carpet, each one sounded off about his tastes and ideas until late into the night. It doesn't take much more than that, at the age of twenty, to forge long-term friendships. Soon other friends joined them and this little group that Sauguet dubbed “le Club” began regularly meeting up in a bar on the rue Tronchet, the Tip Toes, and came to encompass the poet Max Jacobs, the actor Marcel Herrand, the writer René Crevel, historian Pierre Gaxotte, fashion illustrator Jean Ozenne...  And most especially the painter-illustrator Christian Bérard whom Christian Dior met through Henri Sauguet. They would become inseparable. Later, the man nicknamed “Bébé” would collaborate regularly with the couture house. This merry band also frequented art galleries, performances such as the Ballets Russes and plays at the Bouffes du Nord theatre, as well as the Médrano circus to applaud the Fratellini family. Without forgetting the most famous bar of the post-war years: Le Boeuf sur le Toit.  

Perched on a stool, the young man by turns generous, shy and funny that Dior was, accompanied by his troop, would gaze at and meet people like Picasso, Radiguet, Satie, Aragon, Marie Laurencin, Fernand Léger... And Jean Cocteau, in particular, in the role of conductor of the artistic avant-garde, who would later say of the couturier: "a magic name that contains those of God (Dieu) and gold (or)".  The place provided the perfect setting for fiery debates, meditations, monkeying around and having fun. Once he had launched his couture house, the friendship and admiration held by Dior for these brilliant artistic figures naturally inspired him to grant his creations the names of musicians or painters. For the autumn-winter 1949-1950 collection, certain dresses were called Picasso, Dali, Braque, or Matisse.  The following season, ensembles and suits with names like Gabriel Fauré, Haendel, Stravinsky, Mozart, Offenbach  and Liszt  paraded through the Avenue Montaigne salons. The most elegant of tributes.

Summer Saga: Dior and Art, Crossed Paths - In the time of Monsieur Dior, episode 3

© Adagp, Paris 2014, Marc Chagall

© Adagp, Paris 2014, Bernard Buffet

Courtesy Fondation Paul Strecker

© Henry Sauguet, Partition Miss Dior

© Christian Dior