That said, I enjoy researching fashion giants of the era and basking in their legendary works. For that reason, I bought a wonderful book earlier this year and I am simply awestruck by it. Dior is breathtaking for many reasons.
First, its sheer size is amazing, 37.1 cm x 30.5 cm x 5.1 cm (14.6" x 12" x 2"). This is a coffee table book in the most literal sense - it is the size of a table top and it weighs about as much. I cannot sit for long periods of time and look at this book while it's in my lap - it's just too darn heavy. I have to place on a table in front of me to comfortably browse through it.
Second, the photographs are exquisite. From full length shots of the garments to eye-popping close-ups. If you don't have the opportunity to see the garments in person, this is certainly the next best thing.
The flow of the book is ordered chronologically. The first chapter, of course, focuses on Christian Dior himself. There is a brief history of his life prior to launching his sensational couture collection of 1947. We are then lead through each important collection that was to follow, up until Dior's sudden death in 1957.
|Bar Suit, Spring/Summer 1947 collection|
We are invited into the atelier and given insight into what it was like to be a client. There is also a section on high society and celebrity fans and clients, including Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly and Lauren Bacall.
|Famous clients in attendance at Dior shows throughout the 1940s & 1950s.|
From there, the book takes us through the highlights of the each subsequent designer to lead the couture house, beginning with Yves Saint Laurent. Saint Laurent, in his role as assistant, was said to have been groomed by Dior himself as an eventual successor. And, what a an excellent successor he was. Although he only reigned for six seasons (he was called up to do military service), he made an indelible impression upon the fashion world.
|The iconic photograph of the model Dovima in a Dior dress designed by YSL|
Marc Bohan took over as artistic director of Dior haute couture from 1961 to 1989. Unfortunately, despite the length of time Bohan spent at the reins of Dior, his work has not made a lasting impression. There are, however, still some exquisite garments from this period.
|Evening dress, Spring/Summer 1972|
Next up in the historical record is Gianfranco Ferre, who headed the house from 1989 to 1996. He was to create collections imbued with sophistication and elegance, with an emphasis on the architectural approach to garment design.
|Koh-I-Noor gown, Fall/Winter 1996 collection|
Finally, the book closes out with a look at the work of John Galliano, who presented his first Dior haute couture collection in 1997. At the publication date of the book (2007), Galliano had not yet been dismissed due to his anti-semetic tirade.
|promotion published in Harper's Bazaar in January 2007 to mark Galliano's ten years as artistic director at Dior|
The most exquisite part of the book is the exceptional photographs that showcase the garments to their full potential. The backdrops are subtle, yet complementary and add to the aura of wonder surrounding each piece.
|Fidelite wedding dress, Fall/Winter 1949 collection|
My favourites photos are those of the garments, inside & out. It is a seamstress' dream to sneak a peak at the interior of a true couture garment. It is astonishing to see the hand finishing up close and personal.
|Mugeut dance dress, Spring/Summer 1957 collection|
I cannot recommend Dior highly enough. It is a glorious gathering of luscious garments that inspire and amaze.