2 January 2012

Shannon Tested, Zombie Approved: Dior

I have always been drawn to the fashions of the 1950s.  The feminine silhouette of a tight bodice and full flared skirt has consistently been a draw for me.  I especially love the work of couturiers of the era - I find it all very romantic and intriguing.

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.

14 comments:

Linda said...

This was very interesting. What lovely garments.

What-I-Found said...

Thanks so much for sharing this. It's unlikely I'll have a copy ( I live in an RV full time), so it's nice you shared.

alethia said...

Beautiful book.

Jodie said...

Oh it looks like a cool book. So inspirational!

Anonymous said...

Wowza! Thanks for sharing these beautiful images and your review of the book. The beading success is a mystery to me - how does the base fabric (organza? netting?) hold up under the weight of the embellishments? Paula

angie.a said...

Oh my gosh, I NEED THIS.

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

This is a beautiful book but right now I REALLY WANT the Ralph Rucci autobiography that is selling for $195 everywhere - even on Amazon! Thanks for sharing this with us.

shams said...

Very beautiful images. Thanks for the detailed review.

shams said...

By the way, it's nice to see you posting again.

Bri said...

I haven't checked out this book but I certainly will now, the photos in this book are fabulous, something I've found sorely lacking in so many!

Some books I'm in love are the 17th, 18th and 19th century fashion in detail books which feature detail shots of some most exquisite garments!

leafonatree said...

This book looks fantastic. I only dabble in small sewing projects, but I admire the styles and I like to dream about the possibilities! Thanks for sharing.

T. Sedai said...

Wow! This is amazing - thanks for sharing! I have been building up my sewing library with technique books lately, but after seeing this I think I might be more interested in fashion history books in the future...

Sz said...

Welcome Back! You've been missed. Can you perhaps prop the book up on the dreadmill to read? Or at least look at the pictures? I always get so bored on the hamester-mobile...

Mardel said...

That is truly gorgeous and I can see why it appeals to you. The truth is that I've been thinking I really want it too, not because the clothes fit my style, but because the details and the craftsmanship are so amazing. Well, that one and the new Ralph Rucci book. But I'm not buying anything until I'm in the new house, and at least partially unpacked if not fully.