“As a Parisian couturier, I needed to be aware of not only the needs of French women, but also those of elegant women around the world,” Christian Dior wrote in his memoirs.
On September 1st, 1947, a few months after the triumph of the New Look – so named by Carmel Snow, the editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar – the founding couturier, awaited in Dallas to receive the prestigious Neiman Marcus Award, set off to meet the elegant women of the New World. “American women are famous for their beauty, and I wished to see them in their own country,” he explained in his memoirs. Already highly receptive to the idea of his revolutionary style, they would prove to be not only a source of inspiration for his work but would number among his most faithful clients. Beginning the following year, they would be able to discover their own version of the refined atmosphere of 30 Avenue Montaigne which was exported to 5th Avenue with the launch of the Christian Dior New York line. And in Hollywood actresses, the couturier also found perfect muses. After Marlene Dietrich, a close personal friend of the couturier’s and a star in Dior from the very beginning, the House’s faithful clients would include Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor. This unceasing rapport with the United States continues today through actresses such as Charlize Theron, Natalie Portman and Jennifer Lawrence.
From his first transatlantic voyage – during which he had explored New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago – would be born emblematic designs with evocative names, such as the glowing red wool Arizona coat, a houndstooth one named Texas, and the Nuit de Chicago sheath dress. Ten years later, in 1957 – the same year in which he made the cover of Time magazine – still driven by an insatiable desire for discovery, he headed once again to the West Coast. In Los Angeles, he had already introduced his first swimwear line in 1956, in partnership with Cole of California. This odyssey sparked an innovative development of overseas branches (as in London and Caracas), then the signing of several licensing agreements with the best manufacturers, from Canada to Japan. As a result, the Dior name would expand beyond the original United States frontier to become established all over the world.
It is precisely this international ambition and unquenchable curiosity that is being highlighted, from November 19, by the exhibition Dior: From Paris to the World, through more than 180 haute couture outfits and 25 atelier toiles, photographs, unique videos and films, sketches and nearly 200 accessories and objects related to Dior fragrances and makeup, all curated by Florence Müller. This enchanting journey through time also serves to trace the creativity of Christian Dior’s successors, who, just like him, were inspired by the cultures of the world.