Christian Dior and Alexander McQueen
There are many designers in the fashion industry. Few make some kind of an impact on fashion but most designers rarely have any impact at all. It is truly a once in a generation that designer comes along and completely alters the fashion universe and becomes a legend. Two examples of fashion designers that are this rare are Christian Dior and Alexander McQueen. Christian Dior’s life span was before mine but his great impact on the fashion industry carries on today into my lifetime. Alexander McQueen, however is someone I have lived to see develop and become one of the greatest designers of all time. Although these two designers differ in their style and aesthetic, there is always more than meets the eye and there are many similarities between these two visionaries.
Christian Dior was born in 1905 in Granville, which is a small town off the coast of Normandy. Ever since he was a little boy all Christian wanted to do was work in some aspect of the arts. He was the second born of 5 children and was born into a wealthy family but Dior did not always have such an easy life. His family underwent extreme hardships such as his mother and brother both passing away in 1931. These deaths were also followed by another disaster, the collapse of his family’s firm. The only way Dior could make a living was by selling his sketches to couture houses with hopes of somehow landing a job.
Many people do not know this, but Christian Dior also served in World War II for a year until France’s surrender. He then went on to assist Parisian couturier in dressing the wives of Nazi officers for the remainder of the war. After the war, France’s economy was weak and everything including clothing was in short supply. But sometimes the most beautiful things arise from the ashes of such disasters. Christian Dior believed post-war France needed a new style, and from this thought came Dior’s famous “New Look” created in 1947. At the time the designer was working for Marcel Boussac and ran the idea by him. He described this look as luxurious, featuring large, billowing skirts, soft shoulders and cinched waits, a look quite different from the sharp shoulders and knee length skirts the Wartime women were currently wearing. With Boussac’s blessing the first Christian Dior couture show was on February 12th 1947. No one could have possibly predicted the amount of buzz that would follow this collection, which would be later be known as the only Revolutionary fashion ever. Dior’s hunch that women needed something new after the war was correct and it also fit the upcoming roles of women in history, taking on their roles picture-perfect housewives for strong political men.
Dior’s “New Look”, which got it’s name from Harpers Bazaar Editor in chief Carmel Snow’s exclamation “It’s Such a New Look”, not only put French Fashion back on the map but took over internationally as well. Through the 1950’s Christian Dior became the best haute couture house in Paris. Celebrities from all over wanted to wear Christian’s looks and clients included American Movie Stars, Socialites and more.
In 1957 Christian Dior died of a heart attack while choking on a fishbone. It was feared the house of Dior would close down without the designer alive. But it was announced that a twenty one year old Yves Saint Laurent would take over as creative director. The first collection after Dior’s death was a huge success and Saint Laurent was soon a household name himself. He soon went on to open his own couture house, that is legendary in itself. In 1966 John Galliano took over the Dior house and remains there till this day.
Christian Dior is a fashion icon as his the current and future Dior house and is the image of the ultra-elegant feminine woman everyone desires to be. I have no doubts that the Dior name will be a staple in fashion history for many years to come.