In 1947, French fashion designer Christian Dior (1905-1957) created his first skirts, which would launch the house of Dior, one of the most prestigious luxury brands in the world.

Born in 1905 into a wealthy entrepreneurial family in northern France, Dior wanted to become an architect and mingle in Parisian artistic circles. However, his beloved mother and his fertilizer-manufacturer father dreamed of a diplomacy career for their son and pushed him into studying political science. However, he consequently quit his studies and – without a degree – went off to conquer Paris.

Fashion designer Christian Dior Fashion designer Christian Dior

He started his career in 1923 when he opened his first art gallery. He had begun to find his way in the fashion world and met luminaries such as poet Max Jacob and writer Jean Cocteau. Little by little, he took advantage of his growing list of contacts to sell his first fashion sketches, namely to specialized magazines and big fashion houses such as Nina Ricci and Balenciaga. However, during the Great Depression in 1929, he had no choice but to close his business.

Once again he started from scratch, becoming an illustrator for Le Figaro Illustré, before serving for France during World War II.

Christian Dior’s ‘The bar jacket’, 1947 Christian Dior’s ‘The bar jacket’, 1947

His public career only started to really take off following the end of World War II in 1947. Banking on his exquisite sensibility and the financial support of Marcel Boussac, dubbed the ‘cotton king’, Christian Dior launched his own fashion house that year by releasing an inaugural summer collection that he called the ‘Nouveau Look’. His first creations – blown-up full skirts cut mid-calf with frills and a fitted waist – turned heads. As well as exuding femininity and an avant-garde aesthetic, they conjured up the hope of a post-war world, reflecting the profound desires of the French people at the time. In the same year, the designer also released his first perfume, Miss Dior, which would shortly ‘intoxicate’ the world at lightning speed.

A Dior ad from 1952 A Dior ad from 1952

The first collection marked the debut of fame and fortune for the designer. In the following year, Dior’s fashion house opened stores on Fifth Avenue in New York. In the 1950s, Christian Dior set out to create full collections, including clothing, hats, accessories and perfumes. His designs merged luxe fabrics and fine craftsmanship with elegant, effeminate silhouettes to create exquisite fashions.

Marilyn Monroe in Christian Dior Haute Couture, photographed by Bert Stern, for ‘Vogue’ 1962 Marilyn Monroe in Christian Dior Haute Couture, photographed by Bert Stern, for ‘Vogue’ 1962

As the first couturier to make it on the cover of Time magazine, he soon represented half of French fashion exports and won the attention of the era’s great actresses, including Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth and Marlene Dietrich. Dietrich went so far as insisting that producers of her films dress her in the couturier’s creations, coining the historic line: “No Dior, no Dietrich”.

Dior Haute Couture by Maria Chiuri for 2017-2018. Photo: Ethan James Green for LVMH Dior Haute Couture by Maria Chiuri for 2017-2018. Photo: Ethan James Green for LVMH

A relentless worker, Christian Dior pushed himself over his physical limits and shortly fell sick. In 1956, he left the fashion scene and withdrew to a château where he began to write his memoirs. The following year, he died of a heart attack in Italy. Initially, he was succeeded by Yves Saint Laurent at the helm of Dior. Next would come Gianfranco Ferré, Marc Bohan, and more recently John Galliano, Raf Simons, and Maria Grazia Chiuri who today holds the privilege of perpetuating Dior's brilliant legacy.

Jennifer Lawrence for Christian Dior, photographed by Patrick Demarchelier in 2014 Jennifer Lawrence for Christian Dior, photographed by Patrick Demarchelier in 2014

A mythical name to everyone’s ears, Dior reached new heights of success in the 21st century. A little over 70 years since the house’s debut, it now has more than 70,000 employees worldwide. Dior also owes its success to its remarkable domination of the Asian market, as well as its fruitful collaborations with glamorous fashion icons, including Monica Bellucci, Marion Cotillard, Charlize Theron, Sharon Stone, Natalie Portman and Jennifer Lawrence.

Today, the Dior brand is in the hands of the Arnault family, which also holds a 40.9% share of Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE (also known as LVMH). Offering creations in footwear, haute-couture, jewelry and prêt-à-porter for men and women, it has nearly 200 stores all over the world.

Marion Cotillard for Christian Dior with the ‘Lady Dior’ handbag, 2017 Marion Cotillard for Christian Dior with the ‘Lady Dior’ handbag, 2017

The brand’s many iconic products include the famous ‘Lady Dior’ handbag, created in 1995, the ‘Addict’ lipstick, and of course the ‘Eau Sauvage’ eau de toilette, produced since 1966, and more recently the timeless ‘J’adore’, released in 1999. The couturier’s most stunning pieces can be seen and seen again in the north of France at the Musée Dior in Granville, housed in the designer’s childhood home.

Musée Dior in Granville, France Musée Dior in Granville, France

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