"I must admit that clothes are my whole life [...] They haunt me perpetually, until they are ready to pass from the world of my dreams into the world of practical utility.
They preoccupy me, they occupy me and finally they 'post-occupy' me, if I can risk the word.
This half vicious, half ecstatic circle, makes my life at the same time heaven and hell."
A man who needs no introduction.
The autobiography of Christian Dior gives a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of one of the most famous fashion houses in history.
A rare opportunity as it was first published in 1957, the same year the great couturier died. Only ten years after the Dior story began.
The chapter 'Portrait of Myself' is last of nineteen, and only three of them are actually about his personal life. It is more than clear the level of affection, respect and admiration he had for the people he worked for and with, as most chapters are about them. They are part of his story just as much as he is.
"I had been lucky enough to meet Mme Marguerite, whom I always think of as Dame Fashion in person. She has the delicate colouring of a Renoir, and over the years she has become part of myself – of my dressmaking self, if I can so call it.
Impulsive and obsinate, quick-tempered and patient, she is so much in love with her work that our partnership has had the character of a grand passion.
If the world came to an end while she was poring over a dress, I really do not believe she would notice it."
A unique chance to meet the original staff, from premieres, vendeuses and jeunes filles, to the directrice technique, and find out what each and every one of them worked on.
Six chapters cover the making of a collection, from 'The Idea' to 'The Showing of the Collection', including the wild story of his very first one, the birth of the famous New Look.
It is touching beyond words and for a couple moments I truly felt as if I was there, behind the curtain:
"Now the last dress had been shown, amid a tumult of enthusiasm, and Mme Marquerite, Mme Bricard, and I stood gazing at each other in the dressing-room. We were none of us able to speak.
Then Raymonde came to look for us, crying with joy, in order to propel us into the big salon, where we were greeted by a salve of applause.
As long as I live, whatever triumphs I win, nothing will ever exceed my feelings at that supreme moment."
Vintage Dior earrings, available at House Of NITA SAO.
And because he was an avid lover of hats, stating that it would be out of the question to show a collection without them, the final excerpt of this review will be dedicated to them:
"It may seem odd that we should go to all this trouble over a hat, when women are in fact wearing them less and less.
[...] Personally I believe that a woman without a hat is not completely dressed. The fact that very young girls can get away with being hatless has encouraged their mothers to imitate them. But they are simply depriving themselves of an agreeable addition to their appearance and are apparently not sufficiently aware that the cry:
'How pretty you look today!' often means no more than 'How well your hat suits you!' "