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Christian Dior (1905 – 1958) was one of the most influential designers of the 20th century. He was artistic and took to fashion sketching at a young age but it wasn’t until 1946 that he achieved his renown.

In the 1930s, with the Great Depression and family deaths, Dior’s path veered, but from 1937 he designed alongside Pierre Balmain at Robert Piguet. After WWII service in the French army, Dior worked again with Balmain, this time for the house of Lucien Lelong. While there he attracted the attention of textile maker Marcel Boussac, who became Dior’s financial backer. In 1946, he founded his own fashion house, and in 1947 he made a huge impact with his Corolle collection—the “New Look”, as Carmel Snow dubbed it. Quickly the restrictions of wartime seemed outmoded by voluptuous and voluminous silhouettes. Fitted, padded, corseted and lofty forms that accentuated the woman’s figure took hold and had a profound influence on fashion. In 1948, his pioneering licensing of furs, perfumes, and stockings further helped make Dior a household name.

Dior continued to be a major force in the fashion world in the 1950s, with a new silhouette each season, including the Princess line of 1951, the “H” line of 1954, and the “A” and “Y” lines of 1955. The extensive Dior exhibition at Paris’ Musée des Arts Décoratifs from 2017 to 2018, and the following year at the V&A in London, gave a new generation a first hand look at the virtuosity of Dior.

Yves Saint Laurent became Dior’s assistant in 1955, and succeeded him at his death in 1957. The head designers at Dior have been:

1947 -1958 – Christian Dior
1958 -1960 – Yves Saint Laurent
1960 -1989 – Marc Bohan
1989 -1996 – Gianfranco Ferré
1996 -2011 – John Galliano
2011 -2012 – Bill Gaytten
2012 -2016 – Raf Simons
2016 – Maria Grazia Chiuri
The New York, London, and Boutique labels are ready-to-wear labels. Until the early 1960s these labels were designed in Paris, first by Christian Dior and, after his death, by Saint Laurent and Bohen. After about 1961 these lines were designed in New York and London by designers hired specifically to do just those lines.

I created flower women with gentle shoulders and generous bosoms, with tiny waists like stems and skirts belling out like petals.” Christian Dior

Notes: Dior couture labels are often dated with the season and the year, and the label is stamped with an identification number. Note, however, that some boutique labels are also stamped with a number, as this alone does not denote that a garment is couture.

Written by fuzzylizzie with updates by denisebrain

See also: Miss Dior

See vintage Dior from VFG members on Etsy (paid link)