“I wanted to be considered a good craftsman. I wanted my dresses to be constructed like buildings, molded to the curves of the female form, stylizing its shape.”
“Finally, everything that has been part of my life, whether I wanted it to or not, has expressed itself in my dresses.”
He is the name behind the powerhouse of fashion that is the House of Dior. Showing his first fashion show in 1947, he rose to fashion power in such a short time before the world lost him ten years later in 1957. He was Christian Dior, one of the most important fashion designers and couturiers of the 20th century..
Born in Granville, France, near the coast of Normandy, he was one of five children whose father was a wealthy fertilizer manufacturer. At the age of five, his family moved to Paris. It was there, to earn extra money, he would sell his drawings on the street. After leaving school, he took over a small art gallery but during the Great Depression of 1929 lost his art gallery and went to work for fashion designer Robert Piguet and also drew for fashion magazines. In 1940, he went and fought in the war for two years and then afterwards began to work for couturier Lucien Long and Robert Pigue.
In 1946, at 30 Avenue Montaigne Paris, he founded the house of Dior and in 1947, the house presented their first looks, looks that were contrary to the post-war looks of the day. The busts were made bigger, they were not gloomy, the looks had no restrictions. With the new looks, he wanted to give women the art of seduction, unhide was what hidden under all the clothes before during the war. News travelled fast of the show and the looks and soon orders were pouring in from all over the world, from movie stars to royalty. Dior influence on the fashion world is felt even today. His new looks from the 1940s and 50s are still very popular today as they were 70 years ago.
The next year, following his success with haute couture clothes, he established a ready-to-wear house in New York City. He would also create a perfume, Miss Dior, named after his sister. At the end of 1949, Dior made up for 75% of France’s fashion exports and 5% of France’s total export revenue. (At the time of his death, the house of Dior was bringing in more than $20 million annualy.)
His private life, he kept very private. He was discreetly gay and never married. Dior would have many failed affairs with young men but no long term relationship He preferred the company of maternal women and hardly ever socialized with anyone outside a few friends. Ten years after his first show, Dior died at the age of 52 from a heart attack. More than 2,500 people, including his staff and many of his clients, attended his funeral in France.