The iconic shape of the Bar suit that embodies the New Look opens the door to this voyage through time. The black-and-white ensemble demonstrates every aspect of the innovation Dior introduced with his new aesthetic, triggering a golden age of fashion. The suit has continued to haunt the imagination of the fashion world and many of its couturiers and designers ever since. The expertise and techniques that are the lifeblood of haute couture are presented in an atelier where seamstresses are at work, surrounded by models, dressmakers, sketches and toiles.
One of the galleries provides an overview of how the Dior line and allure have developed since , illustrated with gowns and extracts of films and catwalk show videos. The exhibition ends in the lavish setting of the nave, transformed into a ballroom for a presentation of a series of truly sumptuous ball gowns, including several glittering creations seen together for the first time in Paris. The occasion was an exhibition of pieces by leading 18 th -century French cabinetmakers. Christian Dior was one of the people who lent objects to the exhibition, and the presence of his designs turned the inauguration into a fashionable and elegant cultural event.
Extracts from the book. The beginning of the Dior saga paved the way for the most extraordinary epic in the history of Haute Couture. Bearing the promise of a bright new fashion future, Christian Dior was perceived by the world as a hero of the postwar period, a Frenchman of even greater renown than General de Gaulle.
At a time of rationing and shortages, the fashion world was languishing, no longer sparking desire or inspiring change. Christian Dior brought a breath of fresh air, the hope of a better world where women would be free to make themselves beautiful and attractive. Christian Dior gave a similar boost to French Haute Couture in His vision of elegance found expression in a profusion of new forms, materials and adornments.
But Dior knew how to temper his taste for the sensational with expressions of gentleness and simplicity. His spectacular but measured vision brought the House of Dior an instant success that was exceptional in fashion history. The perpetuation of the Dior spirit—a harmony of elegance, splendor and simplicity — found expression in the ever-changing designs of successive creative directors.
The risky choice of the young Saint Laurent was followed by a rational response with the appointment of Marc Bohan. Dior by Dior seems to offer a relatively true reflection of his solid personal culture, which combined the contemporary taste and sensibility of his milieu with evocative ref-erences to painters or architects.
He discussed his own path through his memory of the rooms he lived in, and which in turn fashioned his approach to style.
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While Dior was fascinated with architecture and houses before shifting to fash-ion, he was also drawn to painting, and very nearly made this his field. The first, the Coudret mill in Milly, created a natural link with his provincial childhood and the memory of trips to the countryside. It was painstakingly expanded by transforming the marshes and the forest. Once again, he felt it was essential to recreate an interior that felt as if it were lived in, that reflected transformations that had occurred over time, with furniture and objects added by successive generations—an impression the owner constantly sought to create.
The scent of childhood is the loveliest scent of all. For Christian Dior, this scent was rooted in the Granville family garden, perched on the cliffs of the Normandy coast, overlooking the Channel and scoured by the wind. This bucolic oasis created by his mother Madeleine gave Christian Dior a taste of paradise and a love of flowers that stayed with him throughout his life.
The young boy would pour over the Vilmorin-Andrieux gardening catalogues that taught him everything about the flora he wished to tame. When destiny led him to the world of Haute Couture, he did not forget the scent of his childhood flowers, incorporating them into his collections. And they brought him success, in the form of the New Look and its flower-woman with her full corolla-shaped skirt and narrow calyx-like bodice.
Raf Simons proved himself to be equally talented with his first Dior collection, featuring doubleface dresses, one side strewn with traditionally embroidered flowers, the other with contemporary floral ornaments.
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As for Maria Grazia Chiuri, she shows her dresses for blooming young women in enchanted gardens, decorating her airy ball gowns with discreet bouquets of hand-dyed silk petals that seem to rise from an herbarium. Thanks to the sophistication of the skills that make up the House of Dior, flowers in all their delicacy bloom again in the form of Haute Couture creations.
When the House of Dior was inaugurated in , a crowd of artists and collectors came to admire the creations of the man they knew from his years running art galleries. This close relationship to the art world has always marked the history of the House of Dior. Raf Simons also explored contemporary art through his collaboration with Californian artist Sterling Ruby. Together they revisited the Spray Paintings series with a collection of dresses that transpose the layer of paint into shadow print satin.
The Belgian designer continued his exploration with two pastel-hued dresses echoing the work of American artist Agnes Martin.
Christian Dior was very attached to the 18 th century, frequently conjuring up an era that reminded him of his childhood. The drawing rooms of the family house in Granville and the Parisian apartment occupied by the Diors were both decorated in neo th -century style. When he took possession of the townhouse at 30 Avenue Montaigne, Christian Dior turned to his friend, the architect and decorator Victor Grandpierre. Together they created a neo-classical interior design that the couturier felt was the perfect setting for his collections and dresses.
Hung in Jouy toile, the boutique recreates the mood of an 18 th -century shop selling luxurious trifles, with counters, Louis XVI -style chairs, and an artistically arranged pile of Dior hat boxes. The entire House, from salons to corridors and fitting rooms, is bathed in a luminous and airy atmosphere, in homage to the Enlightenment.
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Christian Dior and his successors have often created contemporary versions of the dresses worn by Marie Antoinette at the Petit Trianon. When she joined Dior as the new artistic director, Maria Grazia Chiuri understood the important role played by balls in the history of both the House and its founder. For her first show, she turned the Rodin museum gardens into a labyrinth inhabited by the head-turning swirl of her diaphanous dresses.
Christian Dior could contemplate the great expanse of the sea from the window of his childhood bedroom, where he may well have dreamed of travelling to far-off places. England was the first country he visited in his youth. After a voyage of discovery to Russia in , Christian Dior carried on exploring the world and travelled to the USA in The couturier then set off on a triumphant tour of the American continent, cementing the resounding transatlantic success of his New Look.
John Galliano and Raf Simons were very interested in ornamental African art and traditional Maasai adornments. Christian Dior paid homage to calligraphy and Chinese dress. John Galliano dedicated his entire Summer collection to encounters between the Far East and the West. The Americas also made an appearance: Christian Dior and John Galliano produced designs inspired by Mexico and Peru, in the colorful tones of Inca art as well as the more somber shades of the conquistadors.
Right from when it first opened its doors, the House of Dior has always been a favorite of the goddesses of the silver screen, winning them over with bold and graceful designs that bolster their star status. The Dior outfits worn by queens, princesses, and first ladies have given us seventy years of legendary images.
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