Maria Grazia Chiuri (born 1964 Rome, Italy) is the first woman to be appointed artistic Director at Christian Dior. She established herself as an activist designer with the slogans she incorporated into her first ready-to-wear collection, most famously “We should all be feminists,” from the title of a 2014 essay by Chiamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Yves Saint Laurent was hired was hired as Christian Dior’s assistant designer in June 1955. When Dior suddenly died in 1957 — even though he had expressed a desire for Saint Laurent to succeed him — the fashion house’s management was initially hesitant about putting its empire, which by then accounted for more than half of all French haute couture exports, in the hands of a 21-year-old.
Christian Dior’s “New Look” was central to the postwar revival of the Paris couture system. In addition to selling individual couture dresses to private clients, Dior also sold licensed copies, like this one of his Columbine dress, which was produced in the US for American department stores. The number of such high-end reproductions was limited, but there were also mass-produced garments that catered to the desire for at least “a copy of a copy of a Dior.”
The Dress Pictured Here is a Licensed Copy of Dior’s Columbine Dress by I. Magnin and Lord & Taylor circa 1947. Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, Paris, Capital of Fashion at the Museum at FIT in Manhattan.
As part of its Spring/Summer 2019 line, Dior has partnered with artist KAWS (aka Brian Donnelly) to use a signature Dior Pink version of the iconic BFF figure in a variety of store promotions and campaigns. I spotted this guy — who is about 8-feet tall, suited up in a sharp Dior suit, with hands, shoes and head made from tufts of pink roses (which are actually paper facsimiles) — in the front window of the Dior shop at the corner of West 14th Street and 9th Avenue in NYC’s Meatpacking District.
For reasons that take too long to talk about, I’m late to the game with my post on the exhibit Paris Refashioned: 1957-1968, which closed on April 15th, 2017. But why waste a collection of lovely photos when I could still post them here, in hope that they will entice you to attend the museum’s next exhibit, while you learn more about the history of French fashion!
I was fortunate to visit the exhibit one frigid Saturday afternoon in February, when there were very few other attendees and the feelings of nostalgia were great, as it reminded me of shopping with my mother when I was a little girl back in the 1960s.
Paris Refashioned, 1957-1968 highlighted one of the most groundbreaking time periods in fashion history. While many books and exhibitions about this era position London as the center of innovative, youth-oriented design, this limited perspective overlooks the significant role that Paris continued to play in the fashion industry. Paris Refashioned, 1957-1968 examined the combined influence of French haute couture, ready-to-wear, and popular culture during this era, with particular emphasis on how fashion was perceived and promoted by the American fashion press. All objects on view were selected from The Museum at FIT’s permanent collection of more than 50,000 objects.
Please enjoy some of our favorite designs from the show!
Look for more individual pieces from the exhibit to be featured in Wednesday’s weekly Eye On Design column in upcoming weeks!