pivotal role by publicising the use of Australian wool by local companies in their production of French copies.
From 1 948 onwards there was constant whispering in the press that the great man himself was to visit Australia. Such was his continuing significance that David Jones, in association with the Australian Women's Weekly, again negotiated with the House of Dior to bring a major parade of Dior couture originals to Australia in late 1957. Despite Christian Dior's sudden death in October at the age of fifty-two, it was decided to go ahead with the show. Eighty-three outfits from his last collection, Libre (Free), were shown in Australia, worn by seven of Dior's house mannequins. The mannequins and parade were supervised in Australia by Madame Suzanne Luling, Dior's sales and staff manager.
The 1957 parade featured the luxurious and glamorous evening dresses for which Dior was famous, along with a new day dress, the chemise, a loose-fitting, unwaisted garment that was the exact opposite of his fitted New Look collection. Originally a Balenciaga creation, the chemise (or sack) was a popular and youthful alternative to the formality of previous Paris designs and proved a forecast of future styles as more and more fashion responded to influences from youth and popular culture.
Christian Dior died at a time when the intense interest in fashion, and in particular in haute couture, was beginning to wane. Australian department stores continued to stage fashion parades, but they were nothing like the lavish productions seen in the late 1940s. The dictatorial voice of the French couture houses was undermined by the new pluralism in dress that gathered force at the end of the fifties. However, the extraordinary achievement of Dior ensured that everyone remembered him. Such was the interest in Christian Dior that two years after his death a local magazine commented that 'The name of Dior is a household word. Those who are interested in fashion may have heard of Balenciaga, Cardin or Balmain, but you don't have to be interested in fashion to have heard about Dior. His New Look has become as famous as the Battle of Waterloo or Lindberg's first Atlantic crossing.'10
* Louise Mitchell is a curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.
1. Christian Dior, Dior by Dior, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1958, p21. 2. See Valerie Lawson, Connie Sweetheart: the story of Connie Robertson, Heinemann, Melbourne, 1990, pp277—9. 3. 'Christian Dior models for Sydney' by Elene Foster, London fashion writer, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 April 1948, pi. 4. 'Tiny waists and whirlaway skirts cause sensation', Sydney Morning Herald, 2 August 1948, p5.
5. 'New Look Dior calls us representative', Elene Foster, Sydney Morning Herald, 27 April 1948, p5.
6. Interview with Paule Paulus, Melbourne, 13 August 1993. 7. Correspondence with the Countess of Harewood, 1 October 1993. 8. 'The New Look and foundations', Draper of Australasia, 28 February 1948, p42. 9. Sydney Morning Herald, 15 November 1951, p 13. 10. 'The tyranny of the haughty couture', Flair, May 1 959, p32.
This photograph of French fashion is given an Australian flavour with local mannequin Judy Barraclough posed wearing a Dior model from Madame Pellier at a cricket match with Test stars Keith Miller, Ian Johnson and Graeme Hole in the background.
e Uior years 1946-1994
1946 8 October: the meeting between Christian Dior and Marcel Boussac leads to the founding of the couture house 'Christian Dior'.
1947 12 February: presentation of the first collection, Spring-Summer 1947, with two lines Corolle (Corolla) and En huit (Figure eight). 'Christian Dior has revolutionized Couture, rather like the Marne Taxis have saved France', proclaims the very influential editor of Harper's Bazaar, Carmel Snow. The New Look was born. Christian Dior is awarded the Oscar of Haute Couture by Mr Neiman Marcus in Dallas, Texas. The house has ninety employees, a turnover of 1.3 million francs and accounts for 75 per cent of all French haute couture exports. October: founding of Parfums Christian Dior. Creation of the perfume Miss Dior.
1948 31 July to 13 August: a Christian Dior parade of fifty-five original and adapted garments, organised by the department store David Jones, is held in Australia. 28 October: founding of Christian Dior New York, Inc for luxurious ready-to-wear and accessories. Founding of Christian Dior Perfumes New York, Inc. In Paris, opening of Christian Dior Furs and a millinery department. 1948 Spring-Summer collection: Zig-Zag line (airy flights and geometric designs). 1948—49 Autumn-Winter collection: Cyclone line (under the sign of wings).
1949 Christian Dior is the first couturier to sign a licence contract. First stocking licence in the United States: Christian Dior Hosiery. Christian Dior invents the pointed reinforced stocking heel. The Kings and Queens Ball given by Comte Etienne de Beaumont: Christian Dior comes dressed as a lion, in a costume made by Pierre Cardin, former Premier d'Atelier (head of workroom) at Christian Dior. 1949 Spring-Summer collection: Trompe-l'Oeil line (pocket and decollete effects). 1949—50 Autumn-Winter collection: Milieu du siecle (Mid-century) line (airy and loose-fitting cut). Over 1200 dresses are ordered in eight days.
1950 First tie licence in the United States: Christian Dior Ties. Founding in Paris of the Christian Dior Diffusion department, responsible for wholesale, export and licence agreements. Christian Dior is awarded the Legion d'Honneur by the Ministry of Trade and Commerce. Dresses made for Marlene Dietrich for Alfred Hitchcock's film Stage fright.
1950 Spring-Summer collection: Verticale (Vertical) line (neat and flowing). 1950—51 Autumn-Winter collection: Oblique (Oblique) line (pink and grey velvet).
1951 Creation of the stocking department. Creation of Dior Sport, ribbed stockings in four colours. The personnel now number 900. The Beistegui Ball at the Labia Palace in Venice, for which Christian Dior designs several costumes and some spectacular capes. With Salvador Dali, he creates a living painting entitled The giants. The book Je suis couturier by Christian Dior is published by Conquistador. 1951 Spring-Summer collection: Ovale (Oval) line (constructed/natural line). 1951—52 Autumn-Winter collection: Longue (Long) line (entirely new proportions).
1952 Founding of Christian Dior Models Ltd in London. 1952 Spring-Summer collection: Sinueuse (Sinuous) line (blousons and sweaters). 1952—53 Autumn-Winter collection: Profilee (Profile) line (shapely waists and curves).
1953 Founding of the Christian Dior Delman Company, manufacturing made-to-measure shoes designed by Roger Vivier. 1953 Spring-Summer collection: Tulipe (Tulip) line (fuller bust, slender hips). 1953—54 Autumn-Winter collection: Vivante (Alive) line (inspired by the Eiffel Tower and the domes of Paris; nicknamed the Shock Look in England, because the skirts are shortened to 16 inches, about 40 cm, above the ground).
1954 Opening of Christian Dior Ltd in London. The House of Christian Dior Paris employs a thousand people and is located in five buildings, with twenty-eight workrooms.
1954 Spring-Summer collection: Muguet (Lily-of-the-valley) line (volume of hat, bust and skirt). 1954—55 Autumn-Winter collection: H-line (the Flat Look, nicknamed the String Bean line).
1955 Opening of the boutique at the corner of rue Francois 1er. Opening of the Gifts—Tableware department. 3 August: a lecture by Christian Dior at the Sorbonne titled Aesthetics of fashion' before 4000 students. 'Doesn't fashion unite the two spirits of geometry and fineness?', he said. Yves Saint Laurent, young winner of the wool design contest, for which Christian Dior was a member of the jury in 1953, is engaged to work at the studio. He becomes the only assistant Christian Dior ever had. Christian Dior designs Olivia de Havilland's wedding dress. 1955 Spring-Summer collection: A-line (a contrast of waisted shapes with diagonals). 1955 Autumn-Winter collection: Y-line (simplicity and length).
1956 Fourteen dresses made for Ava Gardner for the film The little hut by Mark Robson. Twenty-five thousand customers pass through the Christian Dior salons in a single season. Publication by Amiot-Dumont of Christian Dior's memoirs Christian Dior et Moi. Launch of the perfume Diorissimo. 1956 Spring-Summer collection: Fleche (Arrow) line (slenderised and feminine). 1956—57 Autumn-Winter collection: Aimant (Magnet) line (rounded shapes).
1957 4 March: Christian Dior appears on the cover of Time Magazine. The House of Christian Dior alone accounts for over 55 per cent of French haute couture exports and employs 1300 people. 1957 Spring-Summer collection: Libre (Free) line (free waist, volumes and lengths). 1957—58 Autumn-Winter collection: Fuseau (Spindle) line (a curvy, streamlined look). 24 October: Christian Dior is struck down by a heart attack. Yves Saint Laurent takes over as artistic director of the house. November to December: David Jones, in association with the Australian Women's Weekly, presents a complete Christian Dior Show in Australia. Eighty-three spectacular original Christian Dior creations are presented by seven Dior mannequins.
1958 Marc Bohan is appointed artistic director of Christian Dior London. Yves Saint Laurent presents his first collection, 1958 Spring-Summer: Trapeze (Trapezium) line (inspired by the Florentine era and the Renaissance).
1959 12 to 16 June: first presentation in Moscow of the Christian Dior haute couture collection, designed by Yves Saint Laurent.
1960 Yves Saint Laurent designs Olivia de Havilland's gown for the Academy Awards ceremony. Yves Saint Laurent leaves Christian Dior. He is succeeded by Marc Bohan, who becomes Christian Dior's artistic director and designs the haute couture collections.
1961 Marc Bohan presents his first collection, the 1961 Spring-Summer haute couture collection: Slim Look (garden dresses, printed chiffon on taffeta background). Elizabeth Taylor orders twelve gowns.
1964 Marc Bohan designs costumes for the theatre, opera, ballet and cinema. He dresses Juliette Greco for her show at the Olympia Theatre, Annie Girardot for the Arthur Miller play After the fall and Marie Bell in Madame Princesse by Felicien Marceau.
1965 Mr Manteau, in charge of the haute fourrure collections since 1957, introduces colours into furs and creates the first bronze-tinted green coat.
1966 Launch of the men's eau de toilette Eau Sauvage.
1967 11 September: presentation of the first collection of Christian Dior women's ready-to-wear, Miss Dior, designed by Philippe Guibourge. Creation of the Baby Dior line. Marc Bohan designs the wedding and coronation dress for the Empress Farah Diba and the gowns worn by her ladies-in-waiting. 1967 Spring-Summer haute couture collection: Safari line.
1968 Frederic Castet becomes responsible for Haute Fourrure at Christian Dior Paris. Marc Bohan designs the costumes for the Joseph Losey film Ceremonies Secretes.
1969 Launch of the first Christian Dior make-up range.
1970 Creation of the Christian Dior Monsieur line, directed by Marc Bohan. Marc Bohan designs Brigitte Bardot's costumes for L'Ours et la Poupee by Michel Deville. 1970 SpringSummer haute couture collection: Maxi line (Russian-inspired).
1972 Launch of the perfume Diorella.
1973 Creation of the ready-to-wear furs collection by Frederic Castet. Launch of Hydra-Dior, the first range of skin-care products.
1975 Inspired by the retrospective exhibition at the Grand Palais, Marc Bohan designs his
1975 Spring-Summer haute couture collection: on a Pointilliste theme.
1976 Marc Bohan designs the Queen of Sweden's bridal gown.
1977 Celebration of Christian Dior's thirtieth anniversary at the Lido de Paris.
1979 Launch of the perfume Dioressence.
1980 Gerard Penneroux is appointed designer of the Christian Dior Monsieur line.
1981 On the occasion of the marriage of HRH the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer, 29 July, Marc Bohan designs dresses for Princess Grace of Monaco, Princess Alexandra of Yugoslavia and Mrs Pamela Hicks, Lord Mountbatten's niece.
1983 The De d'Or is awarded to Marc Bohan for his 1983 Spring-Summer haute couture collection. Dominique Morlotti replaces Gerard Penneroux and is appointed designer of the Christian Dior Monsieur line and director of the men's design studio.
1984 Creation of Christina Onassis's bridal gown. Launch of the eau de toilette Eau Sauvage Extreme. 1984-85 Autumn-Winter haute couture collection: Klimt et Pollock.
1985 April: Bernard Arnault, chairman of the Financiere Agache Group, main shareholder, is appointed chairman and managing director of the Christian Dior Company. Launch of the perfume Poison, worldwide best-seller. Grand Ball at the castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte.
1986 First presentation of the haute fourrure collection by Frederic Castet in China.
1987 To celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the House of Christian Dior, a retrospective is held at the Musee des Arts de la Mode, Hommage a Christian Dior 1947—1957. An important book titled Dior is published by les Editions du Regard.
1988 The couture and perfume activities, divided in 1968 when Parfums Christian Dior was sold to Moet-Hennessy, are brought back together within the same group. Second De d'Or awarded to Marc Bohan for his 1988—89 Autumn-Winter haute couture collection.
1989 Gianfranco Ferre succeeds Marc Bohan. He is appointed designer of the Christian Dior Haute Couture, Haute Fourrure, Women's Ready-to-Wear and Fur Collections. Gianfranco Ferre also sets all the trends and directives for the Christian Dior women's designs. In July his first haute couture collection, 1989—90 Autumn-Winter, Ascot-Cecil Beaton, is honoured by the De d'Or. 23 October: presentation of the first 1990 SpringSummer women's ready-to-wear collection designed by Gianfranco Ferre. Opening of the Christian Dior Boutique in Hawaii.
1990 The Group Christian Dior, a holding company resulting from the interests successively acquired from the capital of LVMH, is now the largest luxury group in the world (excluding the car industry), highly positioned economically as well as in terms of brand image. Opening of the New York and Los Angeles Christian Dior boutiques.
1991 4 December: Christian Dior is quoted at the Paris Stock Exchange. The Christian Dior Group reaches a turnover of over 22 billion francs. Couture alone generates a volume of over 6 million francs. Launch of the perfume Dune: a grand ball is given at the castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte.
1992 Patrick Lavoix is appointed artistic director of Christian Dior Monsieur. Relaunch of the perfume Miss Dior. 3 July: presentation of the first 1993 Spring-Summer men's ready-to-wear collection: Paris toutsimplement, Diornaturellement (Quite simply Paris, naturally Dior).
1993 Launch of the perfume Tendre Poison.
1994 July: an important retrospective, Christian Dior: the magic of fashion, is held at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Australia.
Compiled by Marika Genty, Christian Dior
Design Themes The New Look
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