Christian Dior, the Genius of a Designer
The decision taken in 1988 to turn Villa Les Rhumbs, the couturier’s childhood home, into a museum dedicated to Christian Dior’s life and work, has made his birthplace of
Granville the setting and decisive source of inspiration for a personal journey of universal resonance. From Granville to America by way of Paris and London, Christian Dior left his
mark on the places he passed through, just as much as they helped shape him. The carefree years spent in Granville were of seminal importance, forging the character traits of the man
and creator who was to become Christian Dior in Paris. It was in that city, ambassador of elegance and French savoir-vivre, that he established his couture house. The brand rapidly
became its symbol, to the point where his name was soon a synonym for Paris across the world. If Maison Christian Dior’s success has been equally dazzling worldwide, it is because it
knows how to adapt to foreign influences.
Three stopovers, laid out on the villa’s three floors, bear witness to the creativity of the great couturier, who was largely influenced by his Granville childhood, and the extension of
the Dior empire’s borders to all four corners of the world. Most of the works on exhibition come from the Christian Dior Museum’s collection, except for a number of loans from the
Granville Museum of Art and History, Villa Montebello in Trouville-sur-Mer and the Saint-Lô Museum of Fine Arts for items relating to the historical context, and from Dior Héritage for contemporary items inspired by the couturier’s hometown and family history.
In Granville, between land and sea
Cocooned in the safe haven provided by the villa, between local festivities and dips in the sea, Christian Dior develops a passionate taste for flowers, encouraged by his mother, and
an appetite for culinary pleasures inherited from his father, which leads him to make regular necessary returns to earth in later life. It was also at Granville’s famous carnival that Christian Dior had his first encounter with a fortune-teller, whose prediction was to prove decisive: “You’ll find yourself penniless, but women are lucky for you and it’s thanks to them you’ll find success. You’ll make a lot of money out of them and you’ll be obliged to cross the ocean many times ”. Her words were the start of his special relationship with signs, portents and predictions.
The New Look revolution in Paris
In a Paris still scarred by wartime hardships, Christian Dior revived the aesthetics of a bygone belle époque by offering dresses imbued with luxury and femininity. He goes on to
produce multiple variations of this initial “New Look” collection, providing them with poetic, evocative names: Bonbon (Autumn-Winter 1947), Papillon Jaune (Spring-Summer 1951), and Alliance (Spring-Summer 1955). On the white canvases prepared by his workshops, the most fantastical motifs and colours fulfil his wish to be a weaver of dreams. Well aware of the importance of harmony and coherence in the way women outfit themselves, Christian Dior opens a boutique on the ground floor at 30 Avenue Montaigne, where customers can be
dressed from head to toe. His brand’s prestige spills over onto the capital, which provides him with plenty of sources of inspiration in return.
Christian Dior, the visionary couturier
Christian Dior proved to be a shrewd businessman. In just ten years, he managed to bring new life to the fashion industry by imposing his own aesthetic ideals, increasing overseas trade, using local suppliers, adapting to a diverse clientele and opening stores across the pond thanks to the support of the national and international press. Tailormade collections
were created for foreign clientele who wanted to adopt the Parisian style while retaining distinctive local identities, like the Mexico dress (Autumn-Winter 1955), which differs from
his haut-couture model due to such features as its simplified golden embroidery. In this regard, the Museum’s recent acquisitions are spotlighted, illustrating one of the “Présence de
Christian Dior” association’s core missions, which is to be its manager.