Dior and the silver screen
Perhaps, like Christian Dior, we should look for signs... He who believed in his lucky star and loved America could not fail to rub shoulders with the "stars" of the cinema. Very early on, he crossed the paths of actresses who did not know what they were to become... For the 18th birthday of his god-daughter, the daughter of Jacques Bonjean, the future couturier designed a black velvet dress with a broad, mid-length skirt with round pleats, fastened with a black patent-leather belt. Her friends, wearing their ordinary evening dresses, looked on in envy. Her devoted admirer, Hubert d'Ornano, found her irresistible and took her dancing to the Club des Champs-Elysées where a gentleman approached her to ask who had designed that "absolutely magnificent" dress. His name was Marcel Rochas and she was later to become the actress Geneviève Page, while Dior emerged as the silver screen's favourite couturier...
Christian Dior, the talent of an actor
From an early age, Christian Dior loved the costumes as much as the stories. He invented both with the same genius. He was still yet to reach adolescence when his sister and cousins began placing orders with him for their costumes for the Granville carnival. Later, he was to excel at charades and other improvisation games - his imagination knew no bounds. Inside the funny but shy middle-class boy from Normandy, a peerless actor lay dormant who was to save him from a number of extraordinary situations. For instance, in Texas, on the day of the prize giving ceremony organised by Neiman Marcus. He was paralysed with fear: "Towards the end of the afternoon, during a fitting session, I had got caught in the drapes and hooks, and worn myself out trying to convince people that the arrogant bust of the evening outfits were their main attraction and novelty. Marylin Monroe's career had not yet been launched and everyone was looking at me fearfully." But when he had to present himself before an audience of 3,000 people, the couturier invented a role, and he received an ovation.
Stars in Dior
How, then, could he not have loved the cinema and its divine stars that his New Look was to crown with glamour? His friend and neighbour at Avenue Montaigne, Marlene Dietrich, attended the first fashion show in February 1947. Enthralled, she was to remain faithful to Dior's talent and style both on stage and in the city.
Just like her, a string of personalities of unique beauty and temperament discovered Dior clothing and perfumes, as well as a way of enhancing and distinguishing their emerging or triumphant glory. Listing them is like flicking though an album of world cinema... Key images emerge from this wave of very chic silks, furs and wools. Elizabeth Taylor in a Soirée à Rio dress with a green chiffon top and ivory faille skirt embroidered with green roses, accepting the Oscar for best actress in 1961...
Grace Kelly in a white satin bustier dress for her engagement in New York in 1956 or in a San Francisco suit for the inauguration of the Baby Dior boutique in Paris in 1967. Ingrid Bergman with five rows of pearls at her neck, wearing a Jardin d'Hiver dress and coat in Indiscreet (1958).
A sexy and elegant Jane Russell wearing the Mazette in black wool, edged with mink, for the première of Gentlemen Marry Brunettes in 1954.
A devilishly sexy Ava Gardner in The Little Hu, Olivia de Havilland, Marylin Monroe, Sophia Loren smoking among fabric samples in the fitting room at 30 Avenue Montaigne. Brigitte Bardot, Rita Hayworth (who in 1947 ordered a dozen pieces), and Jean Seberg in a floral-print cocktail dress for the promotion of Breathless.
Then came Jennifer Lawrence, Marion Cotillard, Robert Pattinson, Natalie Portman and Charlize Theron…
Unusually, at the end of this album of innumerable Dior-clad stars, there is no final ‘The End’. Instead, there are numerous films to watch on the silver screen.