A new book looks back on the elegant, rareified sanctum that was -- and is -- the house of Dior. Monsieur Dior Once Upon A Time by Paris-based journalist Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni looks back at the legendary label and couturier's beginnings, starting when Christian Dior held his first couture show in 1947, a mere two years after the end of World War II. The book, out on October 15, features anecdotes from longtime clients, in-house models, employees and actresses like Lauren Bacall and Marlene Dietrich as well as gorgeous photographs from the archives. The book ends in 1957 -- the year Dior died and the house passed on to his chosen successor, a 21-year-old Yves Saint Laurent. Take a look at preview images, below.
© 2014 ASSOCIATION WILLY MAYWALD / ARTISTS RIGHT SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK / ADAGP, PARIS
“Michel de Brunhoff and Christian Dior talked about changing the way the girls walked, and the pace. Not only were they accessorized from head to toe, which was new for couture at that point in time, but they walked, leaning slightly back so if you weren’t holding tightly onto your pencil, those skirts would twirl past and your pencil would be knocked to the floor.” -- Susan Train, US Vogue
IN THE FRONT ROW, FROM LEFT, CONDÉ NAST POWER PLAYERS: FRENCH VOGUE’S MICHEL DE BRUNHOFF, AMERICAN VOGUE’S BETTINA BALLARD AND ALEXANDER LIBERMAN.
© CONDÉ NAST ARCHIVE / CORBIS
“He always put a sprig of lily-of-the-valley on the lapel and tended to call it 'Bobby,' after his dog.” -- Paule Boncoure, Petite Main of the Dior Atelier
CHRISTIAN DIOR AND RENÉE BY HENRY CLARKE.
© MURRAY GARRETT / PREMIUM ARCHIVE / GETTY IMAGES
“Dior’s dresses were dramatic and made an impression. And suddenly to be able to say: ‘I have a Dior and how about that,' spoke volumes.” -- Lauren Bacall
IN 1952, A PREGNANT LAUREN BACALL CHOSE TO WEAR PANTOMIME, A DRESS FROM THE SPRING-SUMMER 1951 COLLECTION, TO THE ACADEMY AWARDS CEREMONY WHEN HER HUSBAND, HUMPHREY BOGART, WON HIS FIRST AND ONLY OSCAR FOR HIS LEADING ROLE IN DIRECTOR JOHN HUSTON’S THE AFRICAN QUEEN.
REINALDO DE HERRERA PRIVATE ARCHIVES
“My mother was very shy around men. Yet Christian Dior would come in on her fittings and she was absolutely comfortable with that. He was absolutely her favorite couturier.” -- Reinaldo de Herrera
MARIA TERESA HERRERA-USLAR, THE DOWAGER MARCHESA DE TORRE CASA OFTEN REFERRED AS MIMI DE HERRERA -- A TOP DIOR CLIENT AND ONE OF THE GREAT BEAUTIES OF THE TIME, WAS SEATED NEXT TO IVA S. V. PATCEVITCH, PRESIDENT AND CHAIRMAN OF CONDÉ NAST.
"He was there busy instructing his premieres d'atelier. And was all ears to the dancers' reactions when we told him 'it's to tight' or 'I can't lift my arms.'" -- Leslie Caron
AT THE THÉÂTRE DES CHAMPS ELYSÉES, A 16-YEAR-OLD LESLIE CARON WATCHES DIOR MAKE LAST-MINUTE CHANGES TO THE COSTUME OF NELLY GUILLERM, FOR ROLAND PETIT’S BALLET "LES TREIZE DANSES."
© LORD SNOWDON / CAMERA PRESS / GAMMA
"All women should have a good fairy. That is the couturier's role." -- Christian Dior
DIOR WAS PHOTOGRAPHED FOR ENGLISH VOGUE AT HIS HOME IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE BY ANTHONY ARMSTRONG-JONES, WHO WOULD BECOME THE EARL OF SNOWDON WHEN HE MARRIED PRINCESS MARGARET.
© 2014 ASSOCIATION WILLY MAYWALD / ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK/ADAGP, PARIS
"No Dior, no Dietrich!" -- Marlene Dietrich
DIETRICH WAS CAUGHT AT ONE OF DIOR’S CROWDED COLLECTION SHOWS IN 1951, CIGARETTE IN HAND.
COURTESY OF THE CECIL BEATON STUDIO ARCHIVE AT SOTHEBY’S
“He had a very Napoléon III decor which was very red and very velvet. The table setting was refined -- an extremely pretty tablecloth, good silverware and glasses. It was haute bourgeoisie but of the best quality.” -- The Countess Cristiana Brandolini D'Adda
THE MELANCHOLY PORTRAIT OF DIOR WAS TAKEN AT HIS HOME ON PARIS’ BOULEVARD JULES SANDEAU. THE NAPOLEON III-STYLE INTERIOR ILLUSTRATED HIS SUMPTUOUS LIFESTYLE.
© KEYSTONE-FRANCE/ GAMMA-KEYSTONE/GETTY IMAGES
"People made a huge effort to dress up in order to make an impressive entrance at Etienne de Beaumont’s balls that were held at his hôtel particulier." -- Countess Jacqueline de Ribes
AT ETIENNE DE BEAUMONT’S EXTRAVAGANT BAL DES ROIS, OR BALL OF THE KINGS, HELD IN MARCH OF 1949, DIOR WAS DISGUISED AS A LION. THE IMPRESSIVE AND ORIGINAL COSTUME WAS DESIGNED BY PIERRE CARDIN, WHO HAD JUST LEFT HIS COUTURE HOUSE.
© 2014 ASSOCIATION WILLY MAYWALD / ARTISTSRIGHT SOCIETY (ARS), NEW YORK / ADAGP, PARIS
“It’s quite a revolution, dear Christian. Your dresses have such a new look.” -- Carmel Snow, Harper's Bazaar Editor-In-Chief
HARPER’S BAZAAR’S CARMEL SNOW WAS NEXT TO PHOTOGRAPHER RICHARD AVEDON.
"Dior brought that grey back and it was the best. Both modest and luxurious, it set the tone of the house and actually summed up Dior’s character." -- Grace, the Countess of Dudley
IN 1955, THE INTIMATE COLIFICHETS BOUTIQUE GAVE WAY TO AN ENLARGED CHRISTIAN DIOR BOUTIQUE, WHICH WAS CONCEIVED BY VICTOR GRANDPIERRE, THE DESIGNER’S FAVORITE ARCHITECT, IN A LOUIS XVI STYLE.
photos courtesy of Dior
"It was an enchanting experience, not unlike visiting Au Nain Bleu toy shop, because everyone from the doorman to the assistants was so friendly." -- Caroline Pigozzi, Paris Match Journalist
URROUNDED BY HIS DREAM TEAM, DIOR WAS SEATED BETWEEN MARGUERITE CARRÉ, LEFT, AND MITZAH BRICARD. IN THE SECOND ROW, FROM THE LEFT, ARE JACQUES ROUËT, RAYMONDE ZEHNACKER, SUZANNE LULING, AND YVONNE MINASSIAN. IN THE THIRD ROW, FROM THE LEFT, ARE MADAME BÉGUIN, MADAME GERVAIS, AND MADAME MONIQUE. CARMEN COLLE, RIGHT, AND MADAME LANCIEN ARE IN THE FOURTH ROW.
COURTESY OF THE CECIL BEATON STUDIO ARCHIVE AT SOTHEBY’S
“She was extremely beautiful, extremely thin, very perfect behind her veil, and had the most wonderful hands which performed magic when working.” -- Countess Jacqueline de Ribes
PHOTOGRAPHED BY THE LEGENDARY CECIL BEATON, DIOR’S EVER-INSPIRING MUSE, THE BEJEWELLED AND TURBANED MITZAH BRICARD FLAUNTED THE LEOPARD PRINT THAT SHE INTRODUCED TO DIOR’S FASHION WORLD.
© OSTIER ANDRÉ/RBO/CAMERA PRESS
“Neither tricked, neither made mistakes. And Saint Laurent had learnt that from Dior. He did not work with him side-by-side and for such a long time, not to have been affected.” -- Pierre Bergé
YVES-MATHIEU SAINT-LAURENT’S GENIUS AND TALENT WERE IMMEDIATELY RECOGNIZED BY DIOR, WHO ADOPTED A PATERNAL APPROACH TO THE HIGH-STRUNG DAUPHIN, BOTH SUPPORTING AND PROTECTING HIM.