Ever since 2010, the Christian Dior Museum has announced an Autumn/Winter exhibition to follow the summer season: Une Maison, Des Collections (One Maison, Many Collections) presents the collections housed at Granville, acquired and restored by the Présence de Christian Dior Association.
"Christian Dior is not one, but two separate entities - there is myself and there is another one. He is the great couturier with the premises on Avenue Montaigne and the cluster of buildings surrounding it. As for myself, I was born in Granville on 21 January 1905 [...]. Part Parisian and part Norman, I am extremely fond of the countryside where I grew up, even if I never go back."
The Une Maison, Des Collections (One Maison, Many Collections) exhibition looks at various designs by Christian Dior and the inspiration behind them. This year, winter clothing is represented by a selection of coats, furs and party dresses, showing a different side of the creations by the couture house. The exhibition also immerses visitors in the professional life of the great couturier and introduces some of his most faithful employees. The world of Baby Dior is revealed for the first time as well.The collection as a whole explores the spirit of the Haute Couture creations pioneered by Christian Dior and continued by his successors, from Yves Saint Laurent to Maria Grazia Chiuri, the new Artistic Director. Sixty Haute Couture and Ready-to-Wear designs are on display, alongside fashion accessories. Pieces on loan from Christian Dior Couture enrich the collection at the house where Christian Dior started out.
GRANVILLE A MYTHICAL PLACE
"I have the most tender and amazing memories of my childhood home. I would even say that my life and my style owe almost everything to its location and architecture."
Les Rhumbs Villa, childhood home of Christian Dior
When Madeleine Dior first laid eyes on this villa - which resembles more a sturdy little manor than a stylish residence - she decided to make it her own. With a similar strength of conviction to that displayed by her son Christian many years later with regard to the mansion at 30, Avenue Montaigne. Back in 1905, the future designer still an infant, Madeleine persuaded Maurice Dior to purchase the house with the neverending vistas. The property perched above Granville, a mere kilometre outside what was “a sleepy port town for nine months of the year and (in summer turned into) an elegant quarter of Paris”. His was quite a childhood in the isolated confines of the house. Christian would wile away the hours learning by heart the names of plants and flowers from Vilmorin-Andrieux seed catalogues; listening to the women sing hit of the day « L’hirondelle du faubourg » in the warmth of the laundry room; gazing up at the ceiling rose in his bedroom. Christian Dior always thought of Granville with “a nostalgia for stormy nights, foghorns, the death knell sounding a funeral and the Norman drizzle in the midst of which (his childhood) was spent”. He tended the flame of Granville for the rest of his days, recreating the spirit of the place in colours (pink and grey), scents (rose and lily-of-the-valley), sturdy, elegant shapes, and an atmosphere of sheltered peacefulness that befits a family home.
Christian Dior's love of flowers and gardens
« The garden that guarded my childhood » is how Christian Dior described the garden of the villa in which he was raised in Granville, Normandy. His mother, Madeleine, was a keen gardener. Christian inherited her love of flowers and was fascinated by the shapes, colours and poetry of this joyous, generous slice of nature. He spent much of his time engrossed in seed catalogues where he learnt by heart the Latin names of the flowers. He delved into landscaping in his teenage years, designing a pool and pergola for the garden of the family home. The young Dior saw the garden as a temple of beauty, calm and contemplation, and his prodigious insight remains to this day a manifesto for landscapers all over the world. He loved flowers most of all. When he became a designer, he wanted them everywhere. Dior dreamt of a world filled with flower-women and attributed floral names to his creations. He endowed with the grace of a rose every one of his dresses, whose meticulous structures and beautiful fabrics and embroidery gave an impression of fragility and infinite beauty. Calices, petals, pistils and stamens rendered in minute detail on evening gowns resembled the work of a brilliant botanist. Between 1947 and 1957 Dior named more than 50 models after roses.
Christian Dior Museum opens at the former family home in Granville
History had in store darker days for Les Rhumbs. The family were staying at Granville when the First World War broke out. They chose not to return to Paris, retreating instead behind the comforting walled safety of the villa and garden. Staunchly loyal to the Allied Forces, this safe haven became one of the first casualties of the Dior family's bankruptcy in the wake of the 1929 crash. Acquired by the town, its furnishings were dispersed. Its park became a public garden in 1938, and in 1997 the villa came to hold the Christian Dior museum.
GRANVILLE A MYTHICAL PLACE
The couturier's former family home in Granville, now home to the museum, fits in perfectly with the typical landscape of the Normandy coast. The young Christian Dior would gaze at the immense coastal views and wander around the garden he designed with his mother, featuring flowerbeds, a pergola, a rose garden and maritime pines.
At 4 p.m., visitors will have the opportunity to discover the olfactory universe of the Maison, from base notes to top notes via middle notes, with the help of a perfume organ. As Christian Dior the couturier said, perfume adds "the finishing touch" to any dress. Admission: €3
A presentation about the Une Maison, Des Collections (One Maison, Many Collections) exhibition is scheduled for 2 p.m. Free entry for those with a ticket for the museum if dated less than one week old. Duration: 20 minutes To book, call +33 (0)2 33 61 48 21