Dior 70: Seven Decades of Decadence

As Dior celebrates their 70th birthday, Bébhinn Campbell looks back on their history to date.

THE name ‘Dior always rings a familiar bell to those with even the most basic knowledge of fashion – the iconic name can be credited with some of the best the fashion world has to offer.

From his debut ‘New Look’ collection in 1947, Christian Dior encapsulated perfectly the level of class and elegance French fashion was destined to withhold. Dior’s history is now being remembered and admired in celebration of the brand’s 70th year of design success in the exhibition Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, held in Paris Musée des Arts Décoratifs. This eagerly-awaited exhibition celebrates the label’s revolutionary beginnings, its impressive worldwide influence and the numerous people who have successfully carried the Dior name on their shoulders.

Chiuri has felt inspired to construct Dior’s future in line with its history and hopes to maintain the effortless standards set by her illustrious predecessors.

With a new vision, Dior’s ‘New Look’ was the end of boxy silhouettes and freed the kind of femininity that was fiercely restricted during the war. Waists were highlighted, hips were exaggerated, and the ‘hourglass’ shape was finally celebrated.

Dior’s departure from the fashion scene was as affecting as his arrival. His sudden death in 1957 sent the Maison Dior into a state of panic, rescued only by then 21-year old Yves Saint Laurent in his promotion to Artistic Director. The deserving title saw him transition the label into softer, more wearable pieces which fluently complimented the founder’s own designs. The fashion world was impressed. Changing societal influences saw increasingly daring looks come down the runway, but Laurent never strayed far from the level of sophistication which admirers of the brand had come to expect.

The label’s vast legacy seems not to have intimidated its newest Creative Director, Maria Grazia Chiuri. Chiuri has felt inspired to construct Dior’s future in line with its history and hopes to maintain the effortless standards set by her illustrious predecessors, telling Vogue that she has decided to ‘concentrate her attention on Mr. Dior’s work’.

This does not mean playing it safe, however. Her status as the first female in the role was enough to make headlines, and Chiuri continued to surprise in her premiere show at Fashion Week SS17. Memorable highlights amongst her “wearable couture” were the “We Should All Be Feminists” captioned t-shirts, which made Chiuri’s presence clear. While the brand has historically highlighted classic femininity, Dior’s new feminist voice challenges exactly what ‘femininity’ means for the modern woman.