Granville, France

Dior en Roses

By
Lisa Tant
Robe de grand gala Tableau Final, Christian Dior, collection Haute Couture printemps-été 1951, ligne Naturelle. Photographie de Willy Maywald colorisée
Robe de grand gala Tableau Final, Christian Dior, collection Haute Couture printemps-été 1951, ligne Naturelle. Photographie de Willy Maywald colorisée
Robe de grand gala Tableau Final, Christian Dior, collection Haute Couture printemps-été 1951, ligne Naturelle. Photographie de Willy Maywald colorisée
Christian Dior dans la cour du Moulin du Coudret, à Milly-la-Forêt. Coll. Musée Christian Dior, Granville © Droits réservés
Catherine Dior et Hervé des Charbonneries sur leur stand de fleurs aux Halles, 5 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, vers 1957 © DR - Collection Christian Dior Parfums, Paris
Villa Les Rhumbs, musée Christian Dior 2 © Benoit Croisy, coll. ville de Granville
Pergola du jardin Les Rhumbs dessinée par Christian Dior vers 1920 © Ambroise Tézenas pour le livre Dior par Amour des Fleurs, Editions Flammarion 2020

Roses bloom at the heart of famed French fashion house Christian Dior. The designer’s passion for the flower, which continues today in the hands of Dior’s current design teams, will be celebrated this year in a new exhibition called “Dior en Roses.” You’ll find this glorious rose-bedecked exhibit at the Musée Christian Dior in the French seaside town of Granville from June 5 to October 31. 

Femininity, grace and elegance evoke the storied legacy left by Christian Dior (1905 -1957), one of the most famous couturiers of the 20th century. Dior’s love of flowers bloomed early at his mother Madeleine’s side where she tended a lush rose garden at Villa Les Rhumbs, the family home near Granville, a seaside town on the coast of Normandy, France. His beloved younger sister Catherine was a professional gardener who was also a member of the French Resistance during the war. Catherine received several medals of honour for her service including the Croix de Guerre, and was named a Chevalière of the Legion of Honour. (Dior’s first fragrance in 1947, Miss Dior - it remains a bestseller today - was created as a tribute to her.) The Dior family’s love of flowers found fertile ground at Christian Dior’s fashion house in Paris where it is now one of the most revered and successful brands in the world. 

Backed by wealthy French industrialist Marcel Boussac, Christian Dior founded his fashion house in December 1946. His first Haute Couture collection, presented a few months later in February 1947, was called Corolle in appreciation of a flower’s form. (Together, all the petals of a flower are called the “corolla”.) Describing the new silhouette, the designer later said: “I designed femmes-fleurs, women flowers with soft shoulders, blossoming busts, waists as slender as llanas (stems) and skirts as wide as corollas.” The shape, and attitude, shocked the audience at Dior’s runway show in Paris where it was immediately dubbed “New Look” by Carmel Snow, the Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s Bazaar. Not only was the silhouette ultra-feminine in reaction to wartime styles, the skirt alone demanded excess fabric that had been limited due to wartime conservation efforts. The conservative backlash to the New Look’s boned bodices, nipped-in waists and petticoats was swift but, like so many fashion trends, its novelty captured attention and the anger turned to an embrace as wartime shortages ended and women left factory jobs. Dior’s New Look revolutionized women’s fashion and put Paris back on the post-war map as the global centre of women’s fashion.

Dior’s fascination with flowers, and roses in particular, continued as he named dresses after roses (Rose France, Rose Pompon) and incorporated his flower-shaped silhouette, embroideries and rose hues into subsequent collections. The family home, Villa Les Rhumbs, was also, fittingly, pink. Dior's description of its “pastel pink roughcast walls” echoed the fragrant blooms in its rose garden. 

Roses bloom at the heart of famed French fashion house Christian Dior. The designer’s passion for the flower, which continues today in the hands of Dior’s current design teams, will be celebrated this year in a new exhibition called “Dior en Roses.” You’ll find this glorious rose-bedecked exhibit at the Musée Christian Dior in the French seaside town of Granville from June 5 to October 31. 

Femininity, grace and elegance evoke the storied legacy left by Christian Dior (1905 -1957), one of the most famous couturiers of the 20th century. Dior’s love of flowers bloomed early at his mother Madeleine’s side where she tended a lush rose garden at Villa Les Rhumbs, the family home near Granville, a seaside town on the coast of Normandy, France. His beloved younger sister Catherine was a professional gardener who was also a member of the French Resistance during the war. Catherine received several medals of honour for her service including the Croix de Guerre, and was named a Chevalière of the Legion of Honour. (Dior’s first fragrance in 1947, Miss Dior - it remains a bestseller today - was created as a tribute to her.) The Dior family’s love of flowers found fertile ground at Christian Dior’s fashion house in Paris where it is now one of the most revered and successful brands in the world. 

Christian Dior dans la cour du Moulin du Coudret, à Milly-la-Forêt. Coll. Musée Christian Dior, Granville © Droits réservés
Christian Dior dans la cour du Moulin du Coudret, à Milly-la-Forêt. Coll. Musée Christian Dior, Granville © Droits réservés
Catherine Dior et Hervé des Charbonneries sur leur stand de fleurs aux Halles, 5 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, vers 1957 © DR - Collection Christian Dior Parfums, Paris
Catherine Dior et Hervé des Charbonneries sur leur stand de fleurs aux Halles, 5 rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, vers 1957 © DR - Collection Christian Dior Parfums, Paris

Backed by wealthy French industrialist Marcel Boussac, Christian Dior founded his fashion house in December 1946. His first Haute Couture collection, presented a few months later in February 1947, was called Corolle in appreciation of a flower’s form. (Together, all the petals of a flower are called the “corolla”.) Describing the new silhouette, the designer later said: “I designed femmes-fleurs, women flowers with soft shoulders, blossoming busts, waists as slender as llanas (stems) and skirts as wide as corollas.” The shape, and attitude, shocked the audience at Dior’s runway show in Paris where it was immediately dubbed “New Look” by Carmel Snow, the Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s Bazaar. Not only was the silhouette ultra-feminine in reaction to wartime styles, the skirt alone demanded excess fabric that had been limited due to wartime conservation efforts. The conservative backlash to the New Look’s boned bodices, nipped-in waists and petticoats was swift but, like so many fashion trends, its novelty captured attention and the anger turned to an embrace as wartime shortages ended and women left factory jobs. Dior’s New Look revolutionized women’s fashion and put Paris back on the post-war map as the global centre of women’s fashion.

Dior’s fascination with flowers, and roses in particular, continued as he named dresses after roses (Rose France, Rose Pompon) and incorporated his flower-shaped silhouette, embroideries and rose hues into subsequent collections. The family home, Villa Les Rhumbs, was also, fittingly, pink. Dior's description of its “pastel pink roughcast walls” echoed the fragrant blooms in its rose garden. 

Villa Les Rhumbs, musée Christian Dior 2 © Benoit Croisy, coll. ville de Granville
Villa Les Rhumbs, musée Christian Dior 2 © Benoit Croisy, coll. ville de Granville
Pergola du jardin Les Rhumbs dessinée par Christian Dior vers 1920 © Ambroise Tézenas pour le livre Dior par Amour des Fleurs, Editions Flammarion 2020
Pergola du jardin Les Rhumbs dessinée par Christian Dior vers 1920 © Ambroise Tézenas pour le livre Dior par Amour des Fleurs, Editions Flammarion 2020

Christian Dior died of a heart attack at just 52, yet his passion for roses was interpreted and carried on by successive Creative Directors at Dior including Yves Saint Laurent, John Galliano and today, Maria Grazia Chiuri who is responsible for the women’s collections. RoseDior is the name of the latest fine jewellery collection by Victoire de Castellane, the Creative Director for Dior Joaillerie, since 1998. One outstanding pink gold necklace features a detachable diamond rose that can also be worn as a brooch. And fields of roses for Dior’s coveted fragrances are grown near the family home in Granville, and also in Grasse in the South of France. 

Ensemble Bluebell Wood, Christian Dior par John Galliano, collection Haute Couture printemps-été 1998, hommage poétique à la marquise Casati. Collection Dior Héritage, Paris
Ensemble Bluebell Wood, Christian Dior par John Galliano, collection Haute Couture printemps-été 1998, hommage poétique à la marquise Casati. Collection Dior Héritage, Paris
Robe en tulle brodé de la collection Prêt-à-porter printemps-été 2020. Christian Dior par Maria Grazia Chiuri. Collection Dior Héritage, Paris © Laziz Hamani
Robe en tulle brodé de la collection Prêt-à-porter printemps-été 2020. Christian Dior par Maria Grazia Chiuri. Collection Dior Héritage, Paris © Laziz Hamani

Dior en Roses” offers an original interpretation of Christian Dior’s collections by exploring the use of the rose and its sweet palette of pale pink to deep red shades. Visitors will find Haute Couture designs, accessories, artwork and objets d’art on loan from private collectors and also French museums. And the accompanying coffee table book shows how roses inspired the fragrance, fine jewellery and fashion collections. Published by Rizzoli New York, the 160 page book will be available in North America on September 7.  

For more information about the exhibition  http://www.musee-dior-granville.com/

All health and safety guidelines will be followed.

All images courtesy of Musée Christian Dior


Pergola du jardin Les Rhumbs dessinée par Christian Dior vers 1920 © Ambroise Tézenas pour le livre Dior par Amour des Fleurs, Editions Flammarion 2020
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