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Exhibition will be opened from 18.11.2023

Christian Dior

"The Elegancy of Dior Women"

Seven decades have passed since the launch of Christian Dior‘s first collection dubbed as „New Look“ by Carmel Snow, the former editor-in-chief of the American edition of „Harper's Bazaar. The public called this collection  "Dior’s Bomb. " Not many fashion brands, or more precisely, almost none, have managed to become a "classic fashion".

 

The first exhibition of the unforgettable creations of the House of Christian Dior collected by the Alexandre Vassiliev Foundation opened at Schloss Fall Castle, Estonia. 

The magic of the word  "Dior" has made this House synonymous with elegance of the highest order. Dior was a dictator of taste, a "tyrant of pins" as his contemporaries called him.

Christian Dior was born on January 21, 1905 in Granville into the family of an industrialist. Since childhood he idolized his mother, an elegant „Belle Époque“ enchantress who played a huge role in the development of the talent of the future couturier. In his youth, Dior studied political science, traveled and loved museums. His new surroundings, the Parisian bohemia of the 1920s captivated the young man, who to his parent‘s displeasure chose art over a diplomat career.

 

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In 1934, in Paris Dior first decided to take up the fashion illustration. His design career did not begin until  1938, when Robert Piguet (1898-1593) hired him as a pattern cutter. and during the WWII Dior began working as a designer for Lucien Lelong

(1889–1958), who at that time was the president of the Parisian "Syndicate of Haute Couture". Soon after the liberation of Paris, a good friend of the now forty-year-old Dior introduced him to textile industrialist Marcel Boussac. In 1946, backed by Marcel Boussac, Dior officially registered his own company The talks about the House of Dior started only after the first collection shown on February 12, 1947. The first show was a real sensation, which was completed by the legendary phrase exclaimed by Carmel Snow, the editor of the American edition of Harpers Bazaar: "It‘s quite a revolution, dear Christian! Your dresses have such a new look!"

The Dior bomb exploded at an extremely opportune moment. After the end of the bloody and the exhausting war, women all over the world were expecting some kind of novelty. The masterpiece of his first collection, which reflected all the formulas of the classical elegance of the 1950s, became the famous "Bar" suit, consisting of a fitted jacked, emphasizing the bust and soft shoulders and full woolen skirt falling below mid-calf length. Fame and scandal were born at the same time. The fact is that the “new look” was the complete opposite of the military silhouettes of the 1940s, which was more masculine thanks to the padded shoulders. Dior demanded to forget the image of war that was habitually hanging in the closet. Dior was the first to emphasize the beauty of the female torso, waist, and created the length of his wide skirts the illusion of some kind of romantic flair.

  

The couturier himself said:  "We never invent, we always borrow something. " The collections of 1948–1953 introduced tulle petticoats, corsets, belts - everything that made our mothers and grandmothers lady-like charming. During the 1950s Dior's collections  were extremely popular. Dior hats were made by a Romanian Germaine (Mitzah) Bricard, and the shoes, that  ruined the feet of a whole generation of women and the parquet floors of museums in all countries, were created by the famous Roger Vivier. It's interesting that already since the 1950s, the entire range of Dior perfumes - "Miss Dior", "Diorella", "Diorissimo" - has been owned by the champagne company Moët et Chandon.

 

In the mid-1950s, young Yves Saint Laurent became Dior‘s assistant and that‘s where he created his first models. After Dior's sudden death in 1957, Saint Laurent was entrusted with the management of the House's collections, and in 1958 he stunned the world with an ingenious invention – the Trapeze line, a more fluid silhouette that freed the waist. Unfortunately, the next collection, in 1959, was a clear failure and cost Saint Laurent his job. He was drafted into the army, and in his place was appointed recently deceased Marc Bohan, who managed the House for about 30 years,three times longer than Dior himself. Under Marc Bohan, the House of Dior dressed Princess Grace of Monaco, her daughters Stephanie and Caroline, Countess Cristiana Brandolini, movie stars Liz Taylor, Leslie Caron, Sophia Loren, Ingrid Bergman.

 

For some time since 1989, Christian Dior brand was  owned by Givenchy and Christian Lacroix (Louis Vuitton-Moët-Hennessy (LVMH) holding company), headed by Gianfranco Ferre. Ferre was a Creative Directorfor the House of Dior for eight years, and in 1997, unexpectedly left the famous building on Avenue Montaigne. After Ferre announced his resignation, the position was offered to many people. Eventually John Galliano, who had  been chief stylist for "Givenchy" for only a year, began to head the couture house Dior. He revamped the brand. In 2012, Galliano was fired as a result of a scandal in the press was replaced by the Belgian fashion designer Raf Simons, who in turn was replaced in 2016 by the Italian fashion designer Maria Grazia Chiuri, who continues the glory of this wonderful fashion house till today. Today, many dresses from Dior’s collections are kept in museums in France and the USA, as well as in private Foundations and collections. 

This wonderful exhibition introduces the style and spirit of Paris through silhouettes of Dior's fashion.

Alexandre Vassiliev 

President of the Foundation, Lithuania

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