Christian Dior's Fashion Evolution
An intriguing, and delicately balanced mix of the 1940’s New Look and the present day, Raf Simons is still very much creating the first pages of a new chapter of the House of Christian Dior. Under his predecessor, John Galliano, the brand reached proportions of epic drama with teeny tiny doll-like corsets, voluminous sweeping skirts, mysterious obi sleeves, millinery of flying saucer proportions, immaculate origami napkin folding of the thickest, plushest fabric – and sometimes all in one outfit. Historical and geographic references were fundamental to John Galliano’s vision, both couture and ready to wear – which are now consigned to fashion history.
As exaggerated and maximalist Mr Galliano’s confections for the couture collections were, even when his budgets were at the complete opposite end of the scale he managed to cause a stir. A rebirth of 1930’s silk slip dresses cut on the bias – or his first Paris collection, made entirely from black lining fabric have both gone down in fashion legend. Such is the appeal of his exaggerated, fantasy-inspring pieces, even those who are far from the sphere of designer fashion will still flock to exhibitions of his work in museums or pay for luscious coffee table books documenting his craft.
Born in Gibraltar in 1960 and moving to London with his family at the age of six, other milestones in John Galliano’s fashionable life include studying at Central Saint Martins which culminating in his graduate collection being displayed in the window of Browns, Anna Wintour arranging financial backing and a venue for Galliano to show in, in1993, his appointment to head of Givenchy in 1996, followed by his promotion to Christian Dior in 1997. In 2001 he received the CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
The original Christian Dior has just as an intriguing and as mythical back story. His Parisian art gallery went out of business after the Wall Street Crash in 1929 and his novel solution to being unemployed was illustrating fashion pieces for Le Figaro newspaper. Such was his flair that a backer was found and his own couture house was set up in 1946. His ‘New Look’ in 1947 may well be the most famous fashion collection in history. Symbolising optimism and decadence after the end of WWII his wasp-waisted full skirted silhouette was seen and imitated around the world.
The fabled fashion house, part of the LVMH stable, a luxury goods conglomerate under the supervision of Monsieur Bernard Arnault took a long time to consider its options for replacing Galliano after his infamous dismissal and disgrace, which ended in a court case, rehab and happily, retirement for London’s one-time enfant terrible. Galliano’s assistant, Bill Gaytten handled the interim period. Meanwhile the implacable and publicity-shy Simons takes the revered couture house in a new, modern direction. After his collections for Jil Sander in Milan, there was not a soul in the industry to voice criticism of his appointment at Dior.