The House of Dior - The Beginnings
- BY: TEREZA BERKEMEIER
- Feb. 23, 2017
In celebration of the 70th anniversary of the prestigious couture house of Dior we take a look into the world of the French Courtier, Christian Dior, his beginnings, his designs and his connection with Australia.
Established in 1947 the Christian Dior brand launched its first spring/summer collection in Paris. In the same year Pierre Cardin was made head of the Dior workshop and the first perfume called Miss Dior, named after Christian Dior’s sister Catherine was also launched.
Dior’s first collection had 90 different looks and was christened the New Look by US Harper’s Bazaar magazine editor, Carmel Snow. It defied post-war fabric restrictions, and at the time the designs were considered very opulent and contrary to the grim reality of post-war Europe. Famous Hollywood stars such as Rita Hayworth wore these pieces raising the profile of Christian Dior significantly. King George V forbade the princesses Elizabeth and Mary to wear Dior’s designs for it may have set a bad example at a time when rationing was still in place. Princess Mary later became one of Dior’s most loyal customers.
In 1948 Dior opened its first parfume shop and ready-to-wear house on 5th Avenue. By 1949 the New Look line was making a profit of 12.7 million dollars and the Diorama fragrance was also launched.
In 1949 Douglas Cox travelled to Paris to meet with Christian Dior to discuss creating and selling the Dior dresses in Australia. Dior and Cox agreed, signed a contract for the dresses to be recreated in Cox’s Flinders Street, Melbourne studio. A young budding designer Jill Walker was part of the team for Douglas Cox who later went on to have her very own successful label.
Cox presented 150 styles with 60 Dior models with the pieces being shown in Melbourne June 9th – 24th 1949. The agreement between Cox and Dior put Australia on the dressmaking fashion global stage. The Dior-Cox pieces have become some of the rarest fashion pieces in Australian couture.
Melbourne is one of the three cities chosen to help celebrate Dior’s 70th anniversary along with Paris and New York. One of the highlights will include surviving examples of Christian Dior’s New Look collection.
The exhibition, House of Dior: Seventy years of Haute Couture runs from August 2017 – November 2017 at the NGV International, Melbourne.