Exactly 66 years ago, Christian Dior presented both his very first haute couture collection and the house's first perfume.
A thick blanket of white covered the scene, as though Avenue Montaigne sought to complement the parade of sable-clad women who walked along it. Paris was buried under snow. The previous week, the temperature had dropped to -14 degrees celsius. At number 30, the palpable excitement heated up the rooms: for this was the day that Christian Dior would present his first showing of haute couture. It was February 12, 1947, and everyone was busy making sure everything was perfect, according to the couturier's wishes. 'Will it be a hit?' was undoubtedly the question on everyone's mind, from the seamstress busy with her needle, to the couturier, himself a ball of nerves.
The date would prove to be historic, as we now know, but at that moment the only certainty was high expectations. Christian Dior had a new vision of womanhood - and not just in the silhouette, but in a woman's overall presence. Haute couture dressed her, perfume partnered her, following her everywhere. With the very first exit, a wave of astonishment surged through the attendant crowd. The surprise was significant: a highly-defined waist, the bust standing proud, the skirts long, and clearly necessitating large amounts of fabric to create the effect. The shock of those initial moments gave way to enthusiasm: women could finally be women again. Gone were the war-time restrictions; the mournful austerity banished; goodbye to lumpy, unflattering dresses.
Femininity had made its comeback, such as hadn't been seen since the Belle Epoque. "It’s such a new look", exclaimed Carmel Snow, editor-in-chief of the incredibly influential American magazine Harper’s Bazaar. It was a revolution.
And this young woman in bloom that Christian Dior dressed also merited her own corresponding fragrance. Convinced of this necessity, the couturier took on the mantle of perfumer and conceived Miss Dior, "a perfume that smells like love" . As the guests entered for the show, several liters were diffused throughout the salons, as if huge bunches of flowers had opened in a breeze. On the mantlepieces, at the top of the stairs, everywhere, were white roses. The sense of harmony was complete, and as the models twirled in their Corolle skirts, it seemed as though everything was flowers: the dresses, the women, the scent, even love itself.
February 12, 1947 - the date when the whole Dior story began. And from that date neither couture, nor luxury, nor perfumery, nor fashion would ever be the same again.