Christian Dior et la Russie is the story of a man who crosses Russia, from Moscow to Irkutsk, to warn the Tsar’s brother of the Tartar invasion. Both love story and epic novel, the book is Michael Strogoff by Jules Verne, and it sat by the bedside of a young Christian Dior as he dreamed of adventures, like any boy his age and, through literature, lost himself on the wild Siberian plains. Fashion House Christian Dior was headed by the young fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, and to bring Paris fashion just for five days to the Soviet Union behind the Iron Curtain – was his extravagant idea. In 1959, the French couturier sent to Moscow 12 models with 120 couture dresses for a first parade of the fashion house in the Russian capital. During three days, 11,000 people visited the famous Moscow club Les ailes du soviet seeing the collection. The pictures of that event are the golden age of fashion, where the silhouette of women were incredibly feminine.
Dior and Russia begins there: in Granville, in the house Christian’s parents owned on the Normandy coast, in the hours after nightfall, when he was unable to stop reading about the journey of the Tsar’s messenger, lost in wonderment before the engravings by Jules-Descartes Ferat that brought this beautiful illustrated tome to life.
During this same period, all of Paris had fallen under the spell of Russia. The Ballets Russes was triumphing at the Theatre du Chatelet, and then at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees, only meters from what would later become the house of Dior, at 30, Avenue Montaigne.
And the most important members of the Romanov royal court came to spend long months in Paris where they threw splendid balls. The grandeur of Russia had a strong grip on people’s imaginations, beginning with that of the young Christian Dior.
Later, it was another aesthetic that would attract the future couturier’s attention: that of Russian constructivism. And in 1931, already an art gallerist at the fresh age of twenty-six, Christian Dior went to Russia, drawn by the work of Alexander Rodchenko that he’d seen at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs in Paris a few years earlier. In Moscow, passionate about architecture as he was, he discovered avant-garde buildings and urbanism on a massive scale.
Having become a couturier, Christian Dior remained profoundly marked by these two visions of Russia. His dresses carried names like Prince Igor, Douchka, Caspienne, Caviar and Stravinsky; and the architectural construction of his tailoring recalled the rigor of Russian modernism.
In 1959, for the first time, a foreign fashion show took place in Moscow and, naturally, it was of a Dior collection. It is no coincidence that Russia is the country chosen to host this New Look exhibition. Dior and the former USSR had maintained close ties from the early 50s.
In 2011, at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, all of Moscow turned out to see the exhibition Inspiration Dior, an extraordinary retrospective in which the house’s haute couture creations, from the New Look to the modern day, formed a dialogue with the art works in the museum’s permanent collections, from Francisco José de Goya to Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh to Amedeo Modigliani.
This long love story that joins Russia and the house of Dior continues apace. And it’s being written in Russian too, which, from today, becomes the fifth language of DiorMag.
February 12, 1947 in Paris, on the Avenue Montaigne, an unknown young designer Christian Dior presented his first collection. Thus was born the famous style of New Look, has revolutionized the world of fashion and the fashion house Dior has become a legend.
In the house of Dior worked several Russian fashion models – Princess Tatiana Kropotkina, Alla Ilchun, Elena Kornilova and Dean Varenova. Alla Ilchun – the first Euro-Asian model – half-Russian, half-Kazakh woman who has worked for twenty years at Dior. She was famous for her waist – 49 cm for eyeliner arrows.
Christian Dior et la Russie