The Clover, Lily of the Valley, Star and Bee: The Lucky Charms of Christian Dior

Christian Dior was very superstitious, to the point of establishing in his couture and his company a set of talismans, both guides and good luck charms. There is lily of the valley, clover, star, bee and the number 8.

The Star And The 8 On The Road To Destiny Dior

Christian Dior is known to have been very superstitious, he especially knew how to listen to the signs that surrounded him. In 1919, at only 14 years old, Christian Dior also consulted his first clairvoyant, during a fair in Granville. “You will find yourself without money, but women will benefit you and it is through them that you will succeed. You will get big profits and you will have to make many crossings” she predicted.

In 1946, Christian Dior was about to meet Marcel Boussac. The King of cotton, as we then nicknamed him, wanted to suggest to Dior that he take over the artistic direction of the fashion house Philippe et Gaston. Christian Dior hesitated. The urge to get started was becoming more and more urgent. Three times the meeting was invoked – it is a childhood friend, Georges Vigouroux, crossed three times in a row in the streets of Paris, who knows Marcel Boussac, who tried to convince Dior to change his future.

This evening of April 18, 1946, the day before this important meeting, the legend writes: “while going up Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, Christian Dior hit an object on the ground and failed to fall, as if the object itself was trying to get his attention. He turns around, approaches, and finds that he has just been struck by a star, just outside the British Embassy. His childhood in Granville, in Normandy, awakened in him.

The next day, Christian Dior announced to Marcel Boussac that he will not take over the Philippe and Gaston house, but that he is ready to open a company in his name “where everything would be new from the state of mind and the staff down to the furniture and the room.” After endless discussions with the investor, Dior wins his dream, the Dior house will be born.

It takes place in the heart of the 8th arrondissement of Paris. At 30 Avenue Montaigne, “behind the small hotel at the start, a new eight-story building – eight workshops – with another building, also eight-story, doubled” notes Christian Dior in his memoirs. The 8 is indeed another very suggestive sign.

Chanel had the number 5, and Dior had the 8. It is surely the sensuality of this figure which, marking the infinite once overturned, pleased him so much. Finally, he made it a line – an aesthetic itself. His iconic silhouette which he describes as “clean and shapely, underlined throat, hollowed waist, accentuated hips” This is line 8.

It is therefore no coincidence to find today this figure that will amaze the eye and technology in the Dior Grand VIII, this exceptional watch marked by Dior’s expertise and grammar.

Lily of the Valley, The Clover And The Dior Bee, The Enchanted Garden

Dior was actually carrying a string of lucky charms. He never left without his bunch of charms – a sprig of dried lily of the valley, in an ornate reliquary, a four-leaf clover, the star found on Rue Saint-Honoré, two hearts, a piece of wood and another in gold.

From his favorite flower, lily of the valley, Dior would make it an essential part of his couture. First there is this dried strand which he sews at the hem of each of his creations. Then there is the lily of the valley which he wears in a buttonhole and the one he offers, every May 1st, to his “little hands” and his biggest customers.

Finally, there is lily of the valley in couture – lily of the valley which inspires a whole collection in Spring 1954. The Lily of the Valley Dress enters the annals of fashion history. A dress “at the same time young, flexible and simple” he says; a dress whose pockets of lily of the valley remind her of the “volume of the hat, volume of the bust, volume of the skirt. He loves thrush so much that he arranged for his florist to have it all year round at his disposal.

Dior’s enchanted garden is also the four-leaf clover. This symbol of luck, the designer gave him a considerable place in the choices of his destiny. A little less present in couture, it is the jeweler Victoire de Castellanne who sublimates its heritage in crazy and grandiloquent jewelry. Like a talisman, the clover is adorned here with a green stone, the Amazonite – a symbol of trust.

Finally, if the bee was so dear to Christian Dior, it was because it was, in his eyes, the quickest insect to symbolize the strength and vigor of its fashion house. “A small hive full to bursting, that is what my house was when I presented my first collection” notes Christian Dior in his memoirs. Its seamstresses, Dior nicknamed them “the bees” – conscientious and busy, they are capable of achieving exploits. Sometimes more than 400 or 500 hours of work to make a single dress.

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Recently, it was for a sublime crazy coat imagined by Kim Jones that they once again demonstrated the full extent of their genius – 900 hours of embroidery to complete such a couture miracle. The quintessence of Dior know-how is in the hands of its ‘bees’.

The Dior Lines, An Iconic Couture

If Kim Jones and Maria Grazia Chuiri manage today to create such a desirable fashion, it is because the founder of the house Dior had already envisioned it right. The flower woman, the Oblique, H, A lines and the Tulip line are now used for a sublime and cool seam.

La Femme-Fleur, Granville And Christian Dior’s New Look

Designer, costume designer for the theater, ballet or for Hollywood – Christian Dior, even before  being the greatest fashion designer of the century, he already had in mind this ideal silhouette of the woman of the 20th century. It is that, in the aftermath of the Second World War, Dior looked at as one of the vital interests of restoring the woman to its beauty of yesteryear.

Where the horrors of two world wars had alienated romanticism and betrayed feminine elegance, Christian Dior intended to reset everything. February 12, 1947, Dior presented at the heart of 30 Avenue Montaigne its very first collection. 170 silhouettes advocating luxury and refinement, some of which were in leopard print.

This parade was divided into two themes. The first part, ‘Eight’,  highlighted a wasp waist, shapely hips and a frankly exquisite silhouette. The second, entitled ‘Corolle’ was the one that went down in history. It was this theme that unveiled to the world the Dior manifesto: tight waist, bustier, and unprecedented surge of fabric footage. The tailor-bar is one of those silhouettes introduced in 1947.

“I drew women-flowers, soft shoulders, open busts, thin waists like vines and wide skirts like corollas” later affirmed by Christian Dior. Meanwhile, fashion magazines had already found a name – “Such a New Look” exclaimed Carmel Snow, editor in chief of American Vogue.

The April 1, 1947 issue, it reads: “If there could be a composite, mythical woman dressed by a mythical and composite designer, she would probably wear her skirt about 14 inches from the ground; He could have, for his working model, a flower: petals of padding and stiffening seen under the cut of the skirt. In other words, she would wear the New Look silhouette introduced by Dior in its first collection, the most emblematic example including the Bar suit.”

Dior lines drawn from these hours spent in his mother’s rose garden in Granville, Dior retained the elegance and poetry of flowers. With an eye worked on by architecture, Christian Dior also brings the corolla line into fashion – these flowers which will never cease to inspire his creation.

Here, Dior poses as a slayer of the figurehead of the 20s: the intrepid Garçonne, waist at the hips, elegant androgynous, embodied among others by Louise Brooks. Which bristled deeply Mademoiselle Chanel, who came out of his retirement for a last boost. 

In 1956, Grace Kelly was seen with the tailor Bar. In doing so, she did not invent anything – the look of Christian Dior was already everywhere. Moreover, decades later, each talent in the artistic direction of the house worked like an absolute masterpiece.

John Galiano, with the most iconic version in 2008, for the Haute Couture collection. Raf Simons, too, who made the tailor Bar and his Corolle line a red thread, or recently Maria Grazia Chuiri. Three different visions, one icon with timeless elegance – that’s Dior luxury.

Oblique and Tulipe Chez Dior, Lines In Motion

Fall/Winter 1950-1951. The Oblique collection from the house of Dior introduced a couture complication that soon became legion. The designer was once again rethinking the silhouette around the movement. It must be said that Dior, then gallery owner, was one of the first to organize solo exhibitions of Salvador Dali in 1931, then that of Calder and Giacometto in 1932.

Little wonder then to see him introduce sewing this idea of the ​​inverted line. The Oblique line further emphasizes the delicacy of women. Besides, this photo of Richard Avedon capturing the divine Dovima in the ‘Ambuscade’ set of the Oblique collection sums everything up! The panache and elegance of such audacity. Crazy subtlety and simplicity.

So, when Kim Jones takes up the principle for Dior Homme, during his Spring / Summer 2019 fashion show, we can see how it magnifies the iconic Dior costume. A flagship model now.

The Tulip line follows a slightly different principle. Born in 1953 as the combination of the profile line of previous seasons, it was one of Christian Dior’s favorites. The bust still blossomed, the skirts slightly swollen, it draws from its 18th century fascination the agreement of its silhouette. But soon, Christian Dior turned to more natural lines.

The Search for Natural, Lines H and A

The times have changed. Dior now wants to satisfy the wardrobe of elegant moderns – women are becoming more and more active, and the lines must follow.

“By stylizing the extent of certain models from the Spring/Summer 1955 collection and leaving the size games free, I isolated the letter A which itself succeeded the letter H of the previous one. But each collection is made up of a wide variety of theses and no letter of the alphabet – A, H, Y alone is capable of embodying them all, ”explained the designer.

Month accentuated, the line H releases “an entirely different line based on the length and the thinning of the bust: it is on the parallels which form the letter H, all in height, that dresses, suits and coats are built” by the very definition of Dior.

Meanwhile, Line A, offers the elongated bust and extended by basques, framed horizontally by a belt. Serving a free and refined look, line A was often cut around the addition of a knot which, by yoke, emphasized its horizontality.

Two lines so emblematic of luxury and the allure of the house of Dior that Maria Grazia Chuiri made them the standard of her fashion. Many of these exquisite and light toilets benefit from this couture created almost 65 years ago. What certifies the eternal beauty of Dior women.

Leopard And Hounds-tooth: Iconic Dior Patterns

The prints that were present since the creation of the house which, once again, have revolutionized fashion.

The Leopard, Mitzah Bricard And The Dior Woman

If the leopard appears harmless today, long ago it was considered vulgar and inadequate. But that was before. Before Dior exactly. The man behind the New Look revolution was also behind the reversal of the value placed on the leopard pattern. From the very beginning of the house, the leopard was part of the Dior grammar.

And these origins can easily be traced back to 1947. Because during his event parade, Christian Dior already introduced two leopard silhouettes. A sheath called ‘Jungle’ and an evening dress called ‘Africa’. Expression of feline grace, the print finds a particular echo in the Dior creation. Monsieur owes it in fact to his muse, Mitzah Bricard.

Met on his arrival in Paris, Mitzah Bricard quickly became a muse and a friend to Christian Dior. His style? Carmine lips , leopard coat or scarf. It is said that she used to tie a panther muslin on her wrist, in order to hide a scar. “The scarf is for women what ties are for men, and the way to tie them expresses your personality” wrote Christian Dior in his Little Fashion Dictionary.

In charge of hat collections for Dior, she was the one who imagined the iconic leopard hat in 1950. She also inspired the name of the perfume Miss Dior. One day she exclaimed, seeing Catherine Dior roll down: “Here, this is Miss Dior.”

Having become chic and suitable between the fingers and the impeccable style of the house of Dior, the leopard pattern becomes totemic. We found it everywhere, and it is in Haute Joaillerie that it worked to delight. Dressed in a coat of gold or diamonds, spotted with black lacquer or chocolate, the ring became an animal, mystical and feline, like the muse Mitzah. A wonder imagined by Victoire de Castellane for Dior, in 2013.

But beware, Christian Dior clarified all the same: the leopard print is only suitable for a sophisticated woman.

Pied-de-Poule, England and Dior

From his childhood in Granville, on the Normandy coast, Dior also retained this contact with neighboring Great Britain. Anglophile since childhood, he drew from the elegance he observed, some tics that he incorporated later in his sewing. One of them? The houndstooth, which has become synonymous with the house of Dior.

In 1938, while working for the Robert Piguet house, the young Christian signed a first – his houndstooth pattern dress, punctuated by a protruding lingerie petticoat. He called it ‘English Café’. This pattern, borrowed largely from British aristocrats, and in particular popularized by the Duke of Windsor – this pattern entered Dior grammar until it became one of the emblematic codes.

It’s simple, we find it everywhere! It’s that its architectural and sober geometry, this black and white graphics have everything to please Christian Dior. A simplicity and an elegance that he likes to insert here and there, engraved in the glass of the Miss Dior bottle, woven in a fabric, printed on Diorissimo cologne or on a Roger Vivier shoe designed for Dior in 1959.

It is especially this legendary coat, from the 1948 collection, that marked the spirits. And even today, the houndstooth has enough to look like a number of pieces signed by Dior.

Canning: From Assisi Napoleon II to Dior Fashion

Presently, since the first Christian Dior fashion show, canning was the ideal pattern at Dior – the regalia of Lady Dior, the icon distilled prestige and majesty.

A Seat On Napoleon III’s Chair

Two eras were very dear to Christian Dior in the development of the aesthetics of his home – the 18th century, and the Belle Epoque. If he borrows the codes that have become iconic from his first sewing to the first, notably the knot and the corolla line, it was in the seat of a Napoleon III chair that he read the pertinence of caning.

This chair was in fact part of the layout of the mansion at 30 Avenue Montaigne, organized in collaboration with the decorator and friend Victor Grandpierre. The historic headquarters of Monsieur’s fashion house were, from floor to ceiling, an exact reflection of Dior taste. While the Gris Montaigne colors the walls with subtle elegance, the furniture emphasizes the panache of couture.

There are still today, in the large salons of his boutique avenue Montaigne, these Napoleon III chairs whose caning has since become a single pattern here and there in Dior fashion. First intended for the guests of its Haute Couture fashion shows, these chairs become a strong symbol of the house.

A geometric pattern made of squares and diagonals borrowed from the braiding work of vegetable fiber, the Dior cane made in quilting is omnipresent in the creations, and in particular on the mythical Lady Dior .

But it was Marc Bohan who first inserted it into dresses and a coat, in 1961. The iconic, Rolls Royce Coat, is among this.

Director of the house of Dior for three decades, he is also behind the Oblique canvas – an absolute icon!

Dior Cannage Today

Since, his successors have never ceased to recall the aesthetic power of caning. From John Galliano to Kim Jones who, for Spring/Summer 2019 made it into a very desirable bag, caning marries many creations with rare evidence.

Grand Bal watches, My Dior Electric Rubber glasses where the caning is carved out of rubber, scarves, jewelry.

Indeed, in 2012, the crazy cachet of Dior caning was revealed in the jewelry creations of Victoire de Castellane. Entitled “My Dior”, the collection was born from a childhood memory, that of Victoire de Castellane who accompanied her mother in this same Dior boutique on Avenue Montaigne.

The result is a line of refined jewelry with a lot of balance – cuffs, simple rings, bangles, delicately braided in yellow, pink or white gold, with a very graphic and glamorous mesh. The elegance and refinement of Dior, quite simply.

Trianon Gray: The Key Color for the House of Dior

The identity of such an iconic company is also a matter of color – that of Christian Dior is Trianon gray, sometimes called Montaigne gray. The return of a key color in French luxury.

The Dior Gray, The color of Beginnings

1947, was the year that Christian Dior purchased 30 Avenue Montaigne. Just a few steps away from the Plaza Athenee, his couture workshop took place in a private residence – but it lacked the touch of Monsieur. To dress up the rooms of his couture house, he chose gray… but not just any gray.

If Chanel had black, Christian Dior knew that he could bring gray into the world of couture. Why gray? The color choice of the house can be explained in his childhood memories.

In Granville, on a rocky promontory, there is a strange plastered rose villa, called the Rhumbs. This is where Christian Dior grew up, lulled by the stormy nights and the mist of Normandy. But in Granville, pink marries with gray. The love of flowers transmitted by his mother, and the exotic frescoes at the entrance to the Rhumbs, gave young Christian Dior his first aesthetic emotions.

So, when he acquired his private residence, 30 Avenue Montaigne, he made it the head of his workshop. It is natural that he would move towards the shades that are, perhaps, only complementary in an aesthetic sense. But what should it matter, since Dior belongs to him and Dior bears his name. Pink and gray reminded the fashion designer of his childhood home: a skillful mixture of gray gravel on the ground, and a very soft pink plaster.

The Dior Couture Salons

Today, once past the neo-classical facade, clients are immersed in a universe of elegant sobriety. Composed with white moldings and gray Trianon woodwork, neo-Louis XVI medallion armchairs and frames decorated the knots in the Fontages: Everything is in harmony and subtle. The shade of Trianon gray immerses customers in the heart of French Chic.

Furthermore, in his Little Fashion Dictionary, Christian Dior speaks of pink as the color of joy and femininity; and gray is practical and neutral. Practical because it is elegant, in all materials – tweed, wool, or flannel.

This gray made its color. The color he chose to use everywhere in the decoration of his private residence at 30 Avenue Montaigne. The most elegant neutral colors were, for him, an essential to the charm of Avenue Montaigne – decorated but not decorative.

It therefore dresses the place instead of a pearl gray. Walls, draperies and furniture are available in this same gray, and serve as a backdrop for high fashion and ready-to-wear collections. It “brings out the variegated sparkle of Mr. Dior’s couture.” In 1950, he introduced his first perfume, Miss Dior , in a display inspired by the Temple of Love at the Petit Trianon in Versailles – obviously gray!

“This light genius, unique to our time and whose magic name includes God and gold” as Jean Cocteau said about Christian Dior, has just introduced a positive color, a symbol of hope and happiness in the vocabulary of Haute couture. Gray became Dior Gray.

Without fuss, the gray came to evoke this French elegance and this luxury pushed to its climax. Dior gray, a color now protected by a patent, was in Christian’s eyes the perfect shade: “Everything goes well with gray, so it is the recommended color for accessories.” A certain and unchanging composition, which will become the signature of the iconic pieces of the brand, from the Lady Dior to the Grand Bal watch.The signature of esthetes in search of all aristocratic sophistication, too. Kim Jones, the house’s current artistic director, has made it his favorite shade. You just have to see how this gray suits the British tailoring cool because it is uninhibited!

The Tailleur Bar, The Manifestation of Dior

In 1947, post World War II, Christian Dior sent a waltz to the image of the factory woman-soldier – the woman-flower was born, the Tailleur Bar as a standard.

How did Dior’s Tailleur Bar come about?

Christian Dior, alongside the textile manufacturer Marcel Boussac, they were committed to making a “return to an ideal of civilized happiness”. By his refusal to compromise, by his commitment to the return of elegant clothing, Mr. Dior started thinking of a first collection that revived the ideal standard of beauty.

He liked to spend the evening at the Plaza Athénée for a drink. It was the bar of the plaza itself that inspired his flagship creation. Straight shoulders, slightly drooping in profile, extremely wide skirt covering the calf, very thin and tight waist, constituting the anchor point of the outfit – the bar setting was all the rage this day in 1947, in the salons of 30 Avenue Montaigne.

The line aimed to be a symbol of femininity and absolute elegance. The designer assured that he wanted “my dresses to be built, molded on the curves of the female body whose shape they would stylize. I adjusted the size, the volume of the hips, and highlighted the chest.” By harmonizing everything with a lining of three meters of percale and taffeta, Christian Dior had thus revived an old tradition.

The shapely silhouette of the Tailleur Bar already evoked the crinolines of the 19th century; the jacket is a loan from the golden age of men’s fashion, loan made possible by the democratization of the full jacket.

But on the eve of the parade, the first try-on on the Tania model  went  from failure to failure. The basques fell flat. The effect on the hips were insignificant. Dior then had the idea of ​​using surgical cotton plates which he folded in an accordion shape to create the desired volume. It worked!

The Tailleur Bar was born. Astonished, many socialites rushed towards this new signature of French fashion. From 1947, the Tailleur Bar  was reproduced in all magazines; women around the world dressed in Dior.

The Dior Manifestation, Radical Modernism

In what constitutes as a a perfectly harmonious balance between curves and lines, the proportions of the Tailor Bar magnify the natural curves of a woman. And it is in this, that it is an absolute masterpiece of the house.

From John Galliano to Raf Simons via Maria Grazia Chuiri, the manifest invented by Christian Dior is a wonder to reimagine. Always ahead of its time, the Tailleur Bar had become a staple for women – elegant and powerful.  A basic captured wonderfully by photographer Peter Lindberg.

For where John Galliano made an extravagant version of it in imposing fabrics and volumes, Raf Simons quickly proved that he was also effective in creating a minimal version.

Black and cut to the line, The Tailleur Bar reinvented the pants in 2012 in a very desirable version. 

Maria Grazia Chuiri has also reinvented the Tailleur Bar often in recent years – drawing in its accented lines, one of the most radical neo-feminists grammars. A legend that ultimately resists all the changes of the era.