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INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF STAVANGER

HUONG SON HANH NGUYEN CANDIDATE NUMBER: 000862-041 SUPERVISOR: MS JEANE SVIHUS DATE SUBMITTED: 17 DECEMBER 2012

IB Diploma

EXTENDED ESSAY VISUAL ARTS

“Christian Dior was so famous at the time; it seemed as if he wasn’t a man, but an institution.” - Christian Lacroix

To what extent has Christian Dior influenced contemporary fashion designers? WORD COUNT: 4000


To what extent has Christian Dior influenced contemporary fashion designers? written by HUONG SON HANH NGUYEN


“Christian Dior was so famous at the time; it seemed as if he wasn’t a man, but an institution.” - Christian Lacroix


Abstract To what extent has Christian Dior influenced contemporary fashion designers? This was the question that formed in my mind when I looked up one of Dior’s design after seeing a recreation by another designer. Although deeply interested in fashion, I have never thoroughly considered the impact that classic fashion designers, particularly Christian Dior whom I greatly admire, have on the younger generation of designers today. The Extended Essay allows me to delve into an aesthetic and critical analysis of not only Dior’s work but also that of many contemporary fashion designers, broadening my knowledge of the field that I am considering as a possible career path. In my research, a range of sources were used, both primary and secondary. Primary sources include the personal experience, photo and sketch from my visit to a textile museum in Spain, while secondary information was taken from various books, catalogues, interviews and internet sources. To make sure that my internet sources and photos were reliable and of good quality, I chose to reference only official and well-established websites. The detailed research on the work of “the most authoritative figure in the world of fashion” (Christian Dior: the magic of fashion 8) along with that of the contemporary designers who have showcased creations reminiscent of Dior’s masterpieces, with the elements and principles of art in mind, brought me to a conclusion that the extent to which Christian Dior has influenced these designers is immeasurable, as visionaries of art and fashion will always act as muses to future designers. Dior’s work and legacy transcend time and will always act as the foundation on which modern designers build on, cultivating and influencing the modern fashion landscape.

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Table of Contents Cover Page ................................................................................................................. i Title Page .................................................................................................................. ii Epigraph ................................................................................................................... iii Abstract .................................................................................................................... iv Table of Contents .......................................................................................................v Introduction ................................................................................................................1 Christian Dior .............................................................................................................2 The New Look – ‘Bar’ Suit .......................................................................................5 The ‘Junon’ & The ‘Venus’ .....................................................................................14 The ‘Cygne Noir’ .....................................................................................................26 Conclusion ...............................................................................................................31 Appendix ..................................................................................................................32 Works Cited .............................................................................................................33 Image Credits ...........................................................................................................35


Introduction Swirling full skirts of maximum circumferences, flounce and flair, unashamed femininity. This was the New Look that catapulted Christian Dior to success on that historical 12th of February 1947. Even many decades later, the name that has been synonymous the world over with the enchantment of French elegance and style has lost none of its lustre. As one of the world’s most prominent fashion designer, Dior’s legacy didn’t just survive throughout the ages; his iconic designs transcend through time and place. Alexandra Palmer once said, “If a woman was not dressed in [Christian] Dior she was dressed in a style influenced by Dior” (6). Dior has changed the face of fashion into a new dimension, one which modern fashion designers constantly revisit to lead themselves into the future. So, to what extent has Christian Dior influenced contemporary fashion designers? My significant interest in fashion and pursuit of becoming an innovative designer have led me to delve into current trends on a daily basis, reading and analysing the latest line-ups. When I saw photos of a gorgeous multi-layered gown reportedly designed by Zuhair Murad at the 81st Academy Awards, images of a divine vintage dress began occupying my mind. An overwhelming sense of déjà vu washed over me as I hastily grabbed one of my fashion books and flipped through the pages in search for that exquisite dress; sure enough, there it was, pictured under the title Christian Dior. I instantly developed a curiosity in Dior’s work and wanted to gain an understanding of the influence he has on today’s fashion designers. Examining the fashion design vision of the legendary Christian Dior and many contemporary designers, with focus on the principles and elements of art, it becomes clear that 21st century fashion contains all the gems of Dior’s work.

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Christian Dior According to author Marie-France Pochna, French poet Jean Cocteau foresaw in Christian Dior’s name a unique destiny: “that magic name made up of god and gold” (Fashion Memoir: Dior 4-5) – with ‘dieu’, in French meaning ‘god’, and ‘or’, signifying ‘gold’, merging together to create ‘Dior’. Born on 21 January 1905 in Granville, a seaside town on the coast of Normandy, France, there was no indication that Christian Dior (Figure 1) would pursue a career in fashion. Growing up in a wealthy family of bourgeois industrialists (Palmer 10), Dior was expected to lean towards a career which corresponded to the notions of a respectable figure at the time, in other words, diplomacy. His father, Maurice Dior, insisted that he studied at the Ecole des Sciences Politique in Paris (Pochna, Fashion Memoir: Dior 6), despite his interest in the fine arts and dream to become an architect (Saisselin 113).

FIGURE 1 CHRISTIAN DIOR

After training for a diplomatic career to gratify his parents’ wishes, Dior left to set up an art gallery where he and his associate, Jacques Bonjean, exhibited the works of some of the greatest artists of the 20th century whom they admired, including Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Henri Matisse (Christian Dior: the magic of fashion 26). Dior was somehow inspired by 2


these prominent artists, as he later named several of his creations after them, for instance the ‘Robe de Braque’ (Figure 2), calling upon the talent of its eponym; there is a clear connection between this garment and Braque’s Cubist style, as seen in the simplicity of the geometric lines and shapes of the dress, the subtlety of the belt accentuating the waist and the fractured form of the neckline viewed from the back.

FIGURE 2 CHRISTIAN DIOR, ROBE DE BRAQUE, 1949/1950

Furthermore, Christian Dior was known to be very superstitious. When a mirror smashed in 1930, all that Dior could think of was the portent of bad luck that would follow (Pochna, Christian Dior: The Biography 56). And somehow it did. That year his brother died, followed by his beloved mother, and soon after, his father found himself ruined overnight in the wake of the Wall Street Crash (Palmer 10), leaving Dior in an epiphany at the realisation that he had to rely 3


on himself financially. Closing his gallery, Dior started sketching and selling his designs to fashion houses at the suggestion made by one of his friends (Palmer 12). Eventually his luck came when he was employed by Robert Piguet and later Lucien Lelong (Christian Dior: the magic of fashion 14), which marked the beginning of his fashion career.

FIGURE 3 CHRISTIAN DIOR BOUTIQUE ON AVENUE MONTAIGNE, AUGUST 1953

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The New Look – ‘Bar’ Suit The name Christian Dior has become inseparable with the infamous New Look, which was originally introduced as the ‘Corolle’ line in the spring/summer of 1947. Its nipped-in waists and voluminous calf-length skirts, which exploded outwards like a corolla of flower from the fitted bodices to connote a flower blossoming, took the fashion world by storm and changed the definition of femininity. The editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar at the time, Carmel Snow, called the collection “a revolution” (Sinclair 32), and dubbed it what it became known as, the ‘New Look’ (Christian Dior: the magic of fashion 16). It was not until I had the opportunity to see one of Christian Dior’s original New Look designs (Figure 4) at the Museu Tèxtil i d'Indumentària in Barcelona, Spain, that I realised how a look of such simplicity managed to send “everyone to the edges of their seats” (Sinclair 26) during Dior’s debut show on Avenue Montaigne in Paris.

FIGURE 4 CHRISTIAN DIOR, SUIT, PARIS 1955 (LEFT), OBSERVATIONAL SKETCH (RIGHT) PHOTOGRAPH & SKETCH BY AUTHOR

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Behind the transparent glass of a small section inside the museum, the royal blue jacket made of silk taffeta and woollen crêpe sits composedly above the voluptuous fine-pleated skirt that widen steadily down beneath the knee, giving it fullness and playing up the feminine look. The garment did indeed give an impression of simplicity, but this in turn adds to its elegance. Christian Dior reduced his design to its essence and eliminated unnecessary complexity to call the attention the female body shape. In the same manner, the quintessential New Look silhouette ‘Bar’ suit (Figure 5, 6) was derived from the piece ‘Rond Point’, a fitted double-breasted white jacket with black skirt designed by Christian Dior for Robert Piguet in October 1939. This creation was later reworked in 1944 for Lucien Lelong and then Dior’s first 1947 eponymous collection (Palmer 11). Perhaps this elaborate progression is the reason why this particular ensemble became Dior’s most famous design and “an icon of 20th century fashion” (Palmer 40). The two-piece suit consists of a tightfitting jacket with padded hips made of silk shantung, fastened with five buttons, and a round, sloping shoulder-line. The vertical lines of the pleated wool crêpe skirt lengthen the lower body, while the notched collar shapes up the neckline for a polished look.

FIGURE 5 CHRISTIAN DIOR, ‘BAR’ SUIT, SPRING/SUMMER 1947

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FIGURE 6 CHRISTIAN DIOR, ‘BAR’ SUIT, SPRING/SUMMER 1947 PHOTO BY WILLY MAYWALD, 1955

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The famous mid-1950s image of the ‘Bar’ suit captured by Willy Maywald (Figure 4) has served as “a visual shorthand for the New Look” (FIDM Museum Blog) and a symbol of femininity outbreak after World War II. Christian Dior gave the ‘Bar’ suit this name as it was “intended for late-afternoon cocktail hour in the bars of grand hotels” (Dior Mag). The soft curves of the full busts, narrow waists and long skirts that dropped to below calf length exaggerated the contour of the feminine form, an image which was lacking during the dark years of the war. Although women were offered a dream of optimism and prosperity, the opulence of Dior’s designs created an enormous scandal as there were still severe shortages of materials all over Europe; a day dress is made from as much as 15 metres of fabric, while an evening gown could take up 25 metres (Worsley 110). This extravagance brought an atmosphere of supreme elegance that was an antithesis of the preceding militaristic wartime fashion of the austere 1940s. Several decades later, history seemed to repeat itself when the Autumn 2009 militaryinspired trend was subsequently followed by the silhouettes of Dior’s New Look. Designer after designer showed off their collections of luxury as the world slowly pulled itself out of the global economic recession. Perhaps most recognized was the Louis Vuitton’s Autumn 2010 collection designed by Marc Jacobs (Figure 7). In addition to the fitted suit jackets and flowing full skirts of the classic New Look, corseted balconettes and décolletages were incorporated to enhance the womanly physique. Despite the fact that the garments were hypothetically used to serve as an appealing backdrop to display the exclusive handbags collection, which is what the brand is primarily known for, it was inevitably the redolent wasp waists and full midi skirts that brought back the era of the up-and-coming Elvis Presley and Brigitte Bardot. The colour palette consisted of matte and muted tones, which evoked nostalgia of the quintessentially Parisian atmosphere, whilst the models’ sleek ponytail hairstyles conveyed a sense of the present.

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FIGURE 7 LOUIS VUITTON AUTUMN/WINTER 2010

In keeping with the retro ladylike scenario, the focus of the collection also fell on the sophisticated bow-fronted pumps with block heels (Figure 8), which in conjunction with the collection holistically captured the eternally feminine spirit of the time.

FIGURE 8 LOUIS VUITTON AUTUMN/WINTER 2010

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In the midst of the comeback of the curvy silhouette, Dries van Noten was also seen sporting the same look in his Autumn collection at the 2010 Paris Fashion Week, with Christian Dior’s signature creation breathed into the minimalistic and casual-yet-formal style that is unmistakably the brand’s trademark.

FIGURE 9 DRIES VAN NOTEN, AUTUMN 2010 RTW

Apparent throughout the collection, the distinctive juxtaposition of high fashion with street style is reflective of the Belgian designer’s aesthetic sensibility. Pertaining to Dior’s belief that “elegance must be a balance of simplicity, attention, poise and distinction” (Dior Mag.), the plain texture and subdued colour scheme of Dries Van Noten’s designs (Figure 9) put emphasis on the elegant nonchalance and graceful proportions of the fabrics and layering, along with the unconventional combination of smart-casual attire and effortlessly tousled hairstyle. 10


Unlike Dries Van Noten’s urban style, Giambattista Valli is more romantic and delicate in his Spring 2009 Ready-to-Wear collection (Figure 10) of classic black, white and pastels, dominated by high-waisted skirts held up by stiff layers of petticoat.

FIGURE 10 GIAMBATTISTA VALLI, SPRING 2009 RTW

Instead of the archetypal suit jacket and skirt, the Italian-born couturier transformed Christian Dior’s classic look into a New Look of his own; one-piece dresses adorned with lovely pieces of embellishments, such as little bows running down the torso, or clusters of flowers blossoming outwards from the shoulder and waist that highlight the connection to the 1947 New Look’s original name, ‘Corolle’. No padded shoulders or collar necklines, but Giambattista Valli certainly guides the viewers into the timeless realm of the ‘Bar’ suit through his collection. By the same token, Alexander McQueen’s creative designer Sarah Burton launched the much-anticipated McQ by Alexander McQueen collection at the Autumn 2012 London Fashion Week, which seemed to have been somewhat inspired by Christian Dior’s classic silhouette of 11


the New Look, as it comprised the familiar suit jackets flaring at the hips, nipped-waist shapes emphasized by chunky wide belts and exaggerated fullness of tulle ballerina skirts (Figure 11). Speaking of the collection, however, Sarah Burton noted that her focus was on "a love story, a love of McQueen and a love of great British style - from military coats to overblown ball gowns" (Leitch, "London Fashion Week: McQ by Alexander McQueen autumn/winter 2012").

FIGURE 11 MCQ BY ALEXANDER MCQUEEN, AUTUMN/WINTER 2012

There is a considerably large difference between these designs and the New Look, most evidently the decorative use of embellished lace and velvet in Sarah Burton’s collection against the plain texture of Christian Dior’s ‘Bar’ suit. Besides, it is said that the hourglass shape is also a signature silhouette of the late Alexander McQueen (Mower, "Into the Woods: McQ Alexander McQueen Debuts in London"), thus it can be argued that Sarah Burton might have been influenced by her predecessor. However, Christian Dior was the one who made this silhouette famous and thus laid the groundwork for contemporary artists to build upon. 12


An endless number of modern designers have showcased collections in which many designs are reminiscent of the New Look, particularly the ‘Bar’ suit. As said by John Galliano, former head designer at the House of Dior, the ‘New Look’ is “what is so Dior and inspires not only [him] but so many of [his] contemporaries and the next generation” (Pochna, Christian Dior: The Biography 10).

FIGURE 12 D&G SPRING 2009, MOSCHINO CHEAP & CHIC SPRING 2011, CHRISTIAN LACROIX AUTUMN 2009

Instead of the traditional suit jacket, many designers have incorporated a range of different elements to complement the classic Dior silhouette, for example Dolce and Gabbana’s kimono top, Rossella Jardini’s yellow jumper for Moschino Cheap and Chic or Christian Lacroix’s embellished high-neck top (Figure 12). This demonstrates the development that is made possible by the revolutionary Christian Dior and his New Look.

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The ‘Junon’ & The ‘Venus’ Named after the Ancient Roman goddess Juno, who is generally known as the Queen of the Olympians, the creamy silk net gown with embroidered sequins (Figure 14) is one of the most coveted designs in Christian Dior’s collection of Autumn/Winter 1949-1950 (Metropolitan Museum of Art). Considered among the most magnificent dresses Dior has ever designed, the strapless bodice is embellished with clear crystal beads and a thin trim of fabric along the neckline and waistline, creating a slimming effect on the waist. Iridescent blue, green, and rust sequins are heavily encrusted at the hem but gradually fade as they travel up the ombréed petals of the skirt, which appear to be shaped in imitation of eyeless peacock feathers, referencing the bird that is closely associated with the patron goddess of Rome (Figure 13). The use of graduation draws attention towards the voluptuous skirt, which makes the lower body appear wider and fuller with its horizontal hemlines. This complements the small waist line above the skirt and emphasizes the hourglass silhouette. The silk net fabric invokes a sense of lightness and otherworldly appeal when the iridescent sequins catch the light.

FIGURE 13 DETAILS OF THE ‘JUNON’ SKIRT

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FIGURE 14 CHRISTIAN DIOR, ‘JUNON’, AUTUMN/WINTER 1949-1950

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It is only reasonable to argue that Miley Cyrus was aiming for a similar goddess-like appearance to that of the ‘Junon’, as she presented herself in a lustrous tiered evening gown with an ornamental crust of sequins on the red carpet of the 81st Academy Awards (Figure 15). The dress, designed by Zuhair Murad for his Le Bal des Sirenes Couture 2009 collection (Odell, "Q&A: Zuhair Murad on Dressing Miley Cyrus"), is incredibly evocative of Christian Dior’s masterpiece. Its layered petals, encrusted sequins and flaring skirt are only some of the many characteristics that resemble the classic ‘Junon’. Dior’s and Murad’s creations (Figure 16) are similar in both shape and style, despite the subtle alterations made to the latter, including but not limited to the deep V-neckline, massive seashell belt and cut-out back.

FIGURE 15 ACTRESS/SINGER MILEY CYRUS ON THE 81ST ACADEMY AWARD RED CARPET

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The gown, according to Miley Cyrus, “was inspired by Ariel in The Little Mermaid” (Heyman, "Teen Vogue Cover Girl Miley Cyrus"). Designer Zuhair Murad, however, eventually confessed that “it was an homage to Christian Dior” (Odell, "Q&A: Zuhair Murad on Dressing Miley Cyrus") in an interview a few months later. This did not only serve as a response to the speculation over whether or not the Lebanese fashion designer had been inspired by the French couturier to the point of plagiarism, but also proved the ongoing influence that Christian Dior has on modern fashion designers, even several decades after he showcased his design.

FIGURE 16 RUNWAY MODEL IN ZUHAIR MURAD, SPRING 2009 COUTURE (LEFT) MODEL IN CHRISTIAN DIOR, AUTUMN/WINTER 1949-1950 (RIGHT)

Although greatly inspired by the iconic ‘Junon’, Zuhair Murad did leave sparks of his own creativity by using more and smaller petals for the skirt, beaded with monochromatic sequins instead of iridescent. The gown is also lighter and less flared at the hips compared to the 17


original ‘Junon’. Murad’s publicist stated that the designer “is constantly inspired by Christian Dior, and this gown recreates the look of the Dior gown using today's technology” (Gornstein, “Why Is Miley’s Dress So Familiar”). There has always been a thin line between inspiration and blatant copying in fashion due to the nonexistent copyright laws in this industry. On the other hand, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, thus Zuhair Murad’s design is an ideal example of how influential Christian Dior is. Similar to Zuhair Murad, John Galliano paid homage to Christian Dior’s masterpieces in his Spring 2010 Haute Couture collection for the House of Dior (Figure 17). The influence of Dior’s style is evident in Galliano’s design, particularly the silhouette, bodylines and texture.

FIGURE 17 JOHN GALLIANO POSES WITH MODELS, CHRISTIAN DIOR, SPRING/SUMMER 2010 COUTURE

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Galliano’s imitation of the ‘Junon’ (Figure 18) seems to be much lighter compared to the original, as the sequins have a very similar colour to the thin sheer fabric used for the skirt, contrasting with the heavy corset and bow on top of it. While employing Dior’s classic fitted bodice and layered skirt embellished with sequins, he also added his own personal touches, particularly the embroidery on the bodice and the big front bow with a similar texture. In contrast to Dior’s original creation, Galliano is remarkably more dramatic and surrealistic in his design, as he adorned his model with geisha-like makeup and overstated accessories, but the striking similarities are apparent and thus his design can be seen as a progression from that of Dior’s. After all, John Galliano himself said that “[Dior’s] influence on fashion is immeasurable” (Pochna, Christian Dior: The Biography 10).

FIGURE 18 CHRISTIAN DIOR, SPRING/SUMMER 2010 COUTURE

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Naturally, the ‘Junon’ inspired not only runway designs destined for red-carpet fame, but also theatre costumes. Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz is a successful Broadway musical in which the Good Witch of the North, known as Glinda, and the Wicked Witch of the West, Elphaba, are the iconic characters. Glinda’s opening gown (Figure 19) is a spectacular sky blue bubble gown bearing undeniable similarities to the ‘Junon’, most visibly the extravagant layers of petals for the skirt.

FIGURE 19 SUSAN HILFERTY, ‘GLINDA’ IN ‘WICKED THE MUSICAL’, 2003

Resembling Dior’s design, sequins are used as the centre piece for this costume, emphasizing the supernatural fairy-tale elements of the musical. The off-shouldered corset replacing the original strapless bodice is embellished with hand-sewn sequins along the neckline, which follows into a V-shape down to the waist, enhancing the bust. Additionally, the attached 20


queen collar and puff sleeves are also frosted with sequins, which add to the magical appeal of Glinda’s character. In spite of costume designer Susan Hilferty’s claim that she based Glinda’s image on “the sky, stars, and clouds” ("Threadbanger: Interview with Costume Designer Susan Hilferty"), the resemblances between her creation and that of Dior are too profound to dismiss. The designer, who won a Tony Award in 2004 for her work in Wicked, must have been strongly influenced by Dior’s vintage design of the ‘Junon’ gown. With this in mind, Glinda’s bubble gown is not the only vivid reimagining of Christian Dior’s designs in the production of Wicked, seeing as her engagement dress also bears striking resemblance to another creation by Dior, the ‘Venus’. This connection further asserts the ingenuity of the visionary French couturier through the continued interest in his masterstrokes.

FIGURE 20 THE ‘VENUS’ ON A MODEL (LEFT), DETAILS OF THE ‘VENUS’ (RIGHT)

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An incredible ball gown embroidered with “feather-shaped opalescent sequins, rhinestones, simulated pearls, and paillettes” (Metropolitan Museum of Art), the ‘Venus’ (Figure 20, 22) embodies the classic New Look; the cinched-in waistline and full skirt exaggerate the bust and hips. The fullness of the grey tulle skirt occupies more space in the surrounding, thus the gown becomes the centre of attention. The overskirt continues into a court train, extending the length of the lower body and producing a more delicate and elegant appearance. Arrayed with an overlay of scallop-shaped petals, this creation is most likely an allusion to the world-renowned painting The Birth of Venus (Figure 22) by Botticelli, in which the goddess Venus is depicted emerging from the sea in a shell. The seashell is a motif presented in both of Botticelli’s and Dior’s creations that is commonly worshipped as a symbol of fertility, a trait that characterises womanhood and the goddess Venus herself.

FIGURE 21 SANDRO BOTTICELLI, THE BIRTH OF VENUS, c. 1486

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FIGURE 22 CHRISTIAN DIOR, ‘VENUS’, AUTUMN/WINTER 1949-1950

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Perhaps because of this momentous seashell motif, Susan Hilferty decided to construct Glinda’s engagement ball gown (Figure 23) à la Dior, incorporating the skirt of the ‘Venus’ with the corset used for Glinda’s opening number. The pastel monochromatic colour scheme and material used for the skirt of Hilferty’s design is comparable to that of Dior’s, further emphasizing the correlation between the two. However, a simpler petal design is used for the overskirt instead of the scallop-shaped petals, presumably to complement the opening gown.

FIGURE 23 SUSAN HILFERTY, THE GOWN ON STAGE (LEFT) & BACKSTAGE (RIGHT)

Overall, the similitude of Susan Hilferty’s designs for Wicked and Christian Dior’s transcendent gowns is representative of the profound impact that Dior has on today’s designers that extends even beyond the borders of the fashion industry.

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FIGURE 24 CHRISTIAN DIOR, THE VENUS (LEFT) & THE JUNON (RIGHT)

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The ‘Cygne Noir’ The ‘Cygne Noir’ (Figure 25, 26), or Black Swan, may not be the most famous gown designed by Christian Dior, but it is very typical of Dior’s collections of the time, featuring “flying panels and protruding angles” (“Cygne Noir”, Victoria & Albert Museum); it embodies the designer’s distinctive style. As part of the La Ligne Milieu du Siecle collection, the strapless evening gown is characterised by its exaggerated side front bow and monochromatic colour scheme, which produces a pleasing and soothing effect on the viewers’ eyes, as well as the impression of simplicity and elegance. Although this colour scheme looks balanced and visually appealing, there seems to be a lack of vibrancy and energy. This must be the effect Christian Dior was trying to achieve, given that the gown is named after a black swan, a bird often associated with mysteries and melancholy. The bodice made of silk satin with a black velvet trim along the top and the full and heavy skirt supported by a petticoat underneath create a sumptuous subtleness, inducing an inquisitiveness and directs the viewers into a world of mystic fantasies.

FIGURE 25 CHRISTIAN DIOR, ‘CYGNE NOIR’

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FIGURE 26 CHRISTIAN DIOR, ‘CYGNE NOIR’ LA LIGNE MILIEU DU SIECLE (THE MIDDLE OF THE CENTURY LINE), 1949-1950

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Actress Charlize Theron stole the show at the 2010 Golden Globe Awards in an open-back Dior Couture gown with a plunging V-neck (Figure 27), which was an instant reminder of the vintage ‘Cygne Noir’. This shows that the Dior’s in-house design team is obviously under the influence of its founding father. The pastel pink dress encompasses all the elements of a classic Dior gown, featuring a sweeping train and thigh-high slit hidden slightly by the three-tiered bustled bow topped with jewels. It has a modern asymmetric hemline and is pulled in at the waist, showing off the Dior ambassador’s flattering hourglass figure. Even without a head designer at the time (after John Galliano was fired and before Bill Gaytten was nominated – see Appendix), the House of Dior managed to maintain the enormous reputation that Christian Dior left behind.

FIGURE 27 CHRISTIAN DIOR, CHARLIZE THERON ON THE GOLDEN GLOBES RED CARPET

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It appears that John Galliano was not the only designer of the House of Dior who was influenced by the house’s eponymous founder, given Bill Gaytten’s designs for the Spring/Summer 2012 Couture collection. The designer, who replaced John Galliano’s position for two consecutive seasons, said that he went for the “classic Dior shapes, but contemporary” (Milligan, "Bill Gaytten on John Galliano & Christian Dior").

FIGURE 28 CHRISTIAN DIOR, SPRING/SUMMER 2012 COUTURE

Bill Gaytten applied very structural concepts in his recreation of the “Cygne Noir” (Figure 28), such as the balanced use of the overall shades of grey and symmetrical layers of fabric for the skirt. The bow is still employed as the centre piece, although its size has been considerably reduced. A swaying movement is formed by the tulle used for the bodice and the silk net of the voluminous skirt. 29


The influence of Dior’s ‘Cygne Noir’ did not stay within his own fashion house but expanded outside of it as well. Case in point, Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig of Marchesa designed a fairytale-like frothy pink gown with crafted orchids dangling from an exaggerated bow. Conversely, Fausto Sarli and Vera Wang leaned towards bridal wear with white and ivory; they positioned the bow below the waistline of their respective designs, directing the focus towards the hips rather than the waist (Figure 29).

FIGURE 29 MARCHESA, SPRING/SUMMER 2009 RTW (LEFT), FAUSTO SARLI (MIDDLE), VERA WANG (RIGHT)

In the same way that the revolutionary New Look has served as an embodiment of femininity and sophistication through time, the ‘Cygne Noir’ is a means by which Christian Dior conveys a more enigmatic and sultry version of his elegant style.

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Conclusion Withstanding the cruelty of time and the intrinsically fleeting nature of the creative sphere of fashion, Christian Dior’s creations remain an archetype, to which fashion returns at regular intervals when sated with everything else (Pochna, Fashion Memoir: Dior 11). By studying his work along with that of many contemporary designers, it can be concluded that the extent to which Dior has influenced these designers is immeasurable; the ideas captured in their creations are all to be met somewhere in Dior’s masterstrokes. Alternatively, did Christian Dior solely influence these contemporary designers? After all, nothing is ever really new in fashion; trends go in a cycle, thus it can be argued that Dior did not originate any of the elements in his designs as they are simply trends that was successfully revived from the past. However, Dior combined them all resolutely into a single compendious and wonderfully convincing image, which became an epitome of elegance and style. His name, as Bettina Ballard wrote, “stands for fashion to the masses. It is part of the taxi driver’s vocabulary, the teenager’s, and it is often the only name that rings a fashion bell in the mind of the average man” (Sinclair 144). As one of the most important couturiers of the twentieth century, Christian Dior was seen to revive French couture and herald in the golden age of glamour. Visionaries of art and fashion will always act as muses to future designers; they are the touch stone to which today's new talents are compared to. True to Dior's vision, the House of Dior still innovate trends and hold a hierarchy position in driving the direction of fashion. Dior’s work and legacy transcends time and will always act as the foundation on which modern designers build on, cultivating and influencing the modern fashion landscape.

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Appendix Creative Directors of the House of Dior 

Christian Dior (1946 – 1957)

Yves Saint Laurent (1957 – 1960)

Marc Bohan (1960 – 1989)

Gianfranco Ferré (1989 – 1997)

John Galliano (1997 – 2011)

Bill Gaytten (2011 – 2012)

Raf Simons (2012 – present)

Source: Holt, Emily. "Christian Dior (Brand)." Voguepedia. Web. 12 Oct. 2012. <http://www.vogue.com/voguepedia/Christian_Dior_%28Brand%29> 32


Works Cited "Christian Dior: 'Junon' dress ." The Metropolitan Museum of Art. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 June 2012. <http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/C.I.53.40.5a-e>. Christian Dior: the magic of fashion. Sydney: Powerhouse, 1994. Print. "Christian Dior: "Venus" dress (C.I.53.40.7a-e)." The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Web. 29 Aug. 2012. <http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/C.I.53.40.7a-e>. "Cygne Noir (Black Swan); La Ligne Milieu du Siecle." Victoria and Albert Museum. Web. 6 Aug.

2012.

<http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O117683/cygne-noir-black-swan-la-

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<http://www.dior.com/magazine/en_gb/News/2012-1947-Now-Then-Back-Again>. "FIDM Museum Blog: Christian Dior's New Look at the FIDM Museum." FIDM Museum Blog., Web. 22 July 2012. <http://blog.fidmmuseum.org/museum/2010/08/christian-diors-newlook-at-the-fidm-museum.html>. Gornstein, Leslie. "Why Is Mileyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Oscar Dress So Familiar." E! Online., Web. 7 Aug. 2012. <http://uk.eonline.com/news/101431/why-is-miley-s-oscar-dress-so-familiar>. Heyman, Marshall. "Teen Vogue Cover Girl Miley Cyrus" Teen Vogue. Teen Vogue, 14 Apr. 2009. Web. 16 Sept. 2012. <http://www.teenvogue.com/entertainment/cover-stars/200904/teen-vogue-cover-girl-miley-cyrus_090406>. Leitch, Luke. "London Fashion Week: McQ by Alexander McQueen autumn/winter 2012" Fashion - The Telegraph. The Telegraph, 20 Feb. 2012. Web. 15 Sept. 2012.

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<http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/columns/luke-leitch/TMG9094812/London-FashionWeek-McQ-by-Alexander-McQueen-autumnwinter-2012.html>. Milligan, Lauren . "Bill Gaytten on John Galliano & Christian Dior" Vogue News. Vogue UK, 29 Sept. 2011. Web. 16 Sept. 2012. <http://www.vogue.co.uk/news/2011/09/29/bill-gaytteninterview---christian-dior>. Mower, Sarah. "Into the Woods: McQ Alexander McQueen Debuts in London" Vogue Daily. Vogue, 20 Feb. 2012. Web. 15 Sept. 2012. <http://www.vogue.com/voguedaily/article/into-the-woods-mcq-alexander-mcqueen-debuts-in-london/#1>. Odell, Amy. "Q&A: Zuhair Murad on Dressing Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Lopez, Opening a New York Store, and More" The Cut - NYMAG. New York Magazine, 6 July 2011. Web. 16 Sept. 2012. <http://nymag.com/thecut/2011/07/zuhair_murad.html#>. Palmer, Alexandra. Dior: A New Look, A New Enterprise. South Kensington: V&A, 2009. Print. Pochna, Marie-France. Christian Dior: The Biography. NY: Overlook Duckworth, 2008. Print. Pochna, Marie-France. Fashion Memoir: Dior. London: Thames & Hudson, 1996. Print. Saisselin, RĂŠmy G. "From Baudelaire to Christian Dior: The Poetics of Fashion." The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. Wiley-Blackwell, 1959. 109-115. Print. Sinclair, Charlotte. Vogue On: Christian Dior. London: Quadrille, 2012. Print. "Threadbanger: Interview with Costume Designer Susan Hilferty" YouTube - Broadcast Yourself. 9 Oct. 2008. Web. 4 June 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9ypgP6RZU&feature=player_embedded#!>. Worsley, Harriet. 100 Ideas That Changed Fashion. London: Laurence King, 2011. Print.

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Image Credits Cover Page: Gruau, Rene. New Look. Web. 17 September 2012. <http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Ii1i8J11hss/TRqUE7dhuZI/AAAAAAAAAQU/gMilxuqqOCI/s1600/ DESSIN_DE_RENE_GRUAU_-_HAUTES_DEFINITIONS_-_D013461.jpg>

Figure 1: Christian Dior. Web. 4 June 2012. <http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/arts-days/october/~/media/ArtsEdge/Images/ ArtsDays/10/10-08-a-dior.jpg?bc=ffffff&dmc=0&mw=300&w=300 >

Figure 2: Dior, Christian. Robe de Braque. 1949/1950. Web. 4 June 2012. <http://www.claireenfrance.fr/medias/Image/Mus%C3%A9e%20Dior%20Granville/18_Robe%2 0Braque_1.jpg>

Figure 3: Christian Dior. August 1953. Web. 17 September 2012. <http://www.vogue.co.uk/spy/celebrity-photos/2012/4/05/christian-dior-style-file/gallery/7>

Figure 4: Dior, Christian. Vestido/Suit. Paris, 1955. Museu Tèxtil i d'Indumentària, Barcelona. Sketch and photograph by author. 14 June 2012. Figure 5: Dior, Christian. Bar suit. Paris, 1955. Victoria and Albert Museum, London. <http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O75379/bar-la-ligne-corolle-the-skirt-suit-dior-christian/>

Figure 6: Maywald, Willy. Bar suit. Paris, 1955. Web. 08 July 2012. <http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-HtbKW04Utr4/TVYJ4YUsaQI/AAAAAAAAAcA/ 9uf6o8wquUk/s1600/the%2Bnew%2Blook%2B1947.jpg>

Figure 7: Vuitton, Louis. Autumn 2010. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://media.wwd.com/images/processed/Collections/2010/womens_fall_rtw/paris/louisvuitton/portrait/00-main/louis-vuitton09.JPG>

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<http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_uB-BSH_BgAs/S5fcCCwwSjI/AAAAAAAAJvY/dHFZRYFHfY/s400/Louis+Vuitton+fall+2010+show+Dorothea+Barth+Jorgensen.jpg> <http://www2.pictures.stylebistro.com/it/Louis+Vuitton+Fall+2010+Ly10HXmbcy_l.jpg>

Figure 8: Vuitton, Louis. Autumn 2010. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://fashionbags99.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/117.jpg> <http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_FW86_jO7k_A/TG1BrMnxDkI/AAAAAAAB8V8/1VXK1_ZesYE/s 1600/Louis+Vuitton+Fall+2010+Collection+Shoes.jpg> <http://themanofstyle.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/00800m.jpg>

Figure 9: Van Noten, Dries. Autumn 2010. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://www.style.com/fashionshows/complete/slideshow/F2010RTW-DVNOTEN/#19> <http://i38.tinypic.com/11tbcwx.jpg>

Figure 10: Valli, Giambattista. Spring 2009 RTW. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://www.style.com/fashionshows/complete/slideshow/S2009RTW-VALLI/#16> <http://www.style.com/fashionshows/complete/slideshow/S2009RTW-VALLI/#17> <http://www.style.com/fashionshows/complete/slideshow/S2009RTW-VALLI/#13>

Figure 11: McQueen, Alexander. Autumn 2012. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://www.myfashioncents.com/files/2012/02/046b63a5c2f3cf44_139422686_10.preview.jpg> <http://media.vogue.com/files/filecheck/2012/02/20/mcq-rtw-fw2012-runway35_215701101684.jpg_article_gallery_slideshow_v2.jpg> <http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-0DCTcSoQDM0/T0OpdjqOA_I/AAAAAAAABDM/ KwapDslvTJQ/s1600/Mcq_Alexander_Mcqueen_Fall_2012_hq_GPE57491zx.jpg>

Figure 12: Dolce, Domenico & Gabbana, Stefano. Spring 2009. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://i2.squidoocdn.com/resize/squidoo_images/-1/draft_lens7002532module57369212photo_ 1253225947mixing_and_matching_styles.jpg - D&G Spring 2009>

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Moschino Cheap & Chic. Spring 2011. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v449/wendylady1/Fashion%20Police/RTW%20Collections/ Spring%202011/MoschinoCheapCheerful09.jpg>

Lacroix, Christian. Autumn 2009. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://www4.images.coolspotters.com/photos/361524/christian-lacroix-fall-2009-coutureturtleneck-and-layered-skirt-profile.jpg>

Figure 13: Dior, Christian. ‘Junon’. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_p9aP2B1vN4w/TUWblFSkNBI/AAAAAAAACY4/N2GIXLhJGlE/s 1600/costume.jpg>

Figure 14: Dior, Christian. ‘Junon’. Autumn/Winter 1949-1950. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://images.metmuseum.org/CRDImages/ci/original/DT1722.jpg>

Figure 15: Murad, Zuhair. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://www.blogcdn.com/www.luxist.com/media/2009/12/84983410.jpg> <http://www.bopandtigerbeat.com/wp-content/uploads/84976655.jpg>

Figure 16: Murad, Zuhair. Le Bal des Sirenes. Couture 2009. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_uOfdxhKOmSw/SaQG57FM2I/AAAAAAAABdg/D6qpd85p_XI/s1600-h/zhuhair+murad+HC.jpg>

Dior, Christian. ‘Junon’. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://seattlehistory.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/11-15-11-Dior-Gown-PI21397.jpg>

Figure 17: Galliano, John. Spring/Summer 2010 Couture. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://media.onsugar.com/files/2010/01/04/1/166/1668379/96158911_10.jpg >

Figure 18: Dior, Christian. Spring/Summer 2010 Couture. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://www3.pictures.stylebistro.com/it/Christian+Dior+Spring+2010+h4F0K6vXcQ8x.jpg>

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<http://img.dazedcdn.com/600/an/10/6/16385.jpg>

Figure 19: Hilferty, Susan. Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://theowl8james.webs.com/1.jpeg> <http://i44.tinypic.com/2qlydxz.jpg>

Figure 20: Dior, Christian. ‘Venus’. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://3.bp.blogspot.com/vibHFqcmRS4/TfuTz_J36WI/AAAAAAAAAEE/hn6CXhizre4/s1600/diors_0001.jpg> <http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-KRXF2ykXZu0/TfuVbaMn9I/AAAAAAAAAEM/KMQ_PlUSUis/s1600/diors_0003.jpg>

Figure 21: Botticelli, Sandro. The Birth of Venus. c. 1486. Web. 21 August 2012. <http://mmmnoodles.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/botticelli-birth-venus.jpg>

Figure 22: Dior, Christian. ‘Venus’. Spring/Summer 1949-1950. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m6nvrjW0t91qf46efo2_1280.jpg>

Figure 23: Hilferty, Susan. Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://www.galindaswardrobe.com/pictures/Galinda/120.jpg> <http://www.galindaswardrobe.com/pictures/galinda/ga_e_5.png>

Figure 24: Dior, Christan. ‘Junon’ and ‘Venus’. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-C1Pd2_z__Cw/TfuUfOVV-pI/AAAAAAAAAEI/O89qx_zkSY/s1600/diors_0002.jpg>

Figure 25: Dior, Christian. ‘Cygne Noir’. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://images.metmuseum.org/CRDImages/ci/web-large/264086.jpg>

Figure 26: Dior, Christian. ‘Cygne Noir’. 1949-1950. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://media.vam.ac.uk/media/thira/collection_images/2007BM/2007BM6145.jpg>

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Figure 27: Dior, Christian. ‘Charlize Theron’. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://img.ibtimes.com/www/data/images/full/2012/03/23/252471-charlize-theron-at-the-69thannual-golden-globe-awards-in-beverly-hill.jpg> <http://img.glam.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Charlize-Theron-15-Jan-2012.jpg>

Figure 28: Dior, Christian. Spring/Summer 2012 Couture. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-MANT0Dn-lqg/TymE7XspTnI/AAAAAAAAHKE/JlxQOdI3tsk/ s1600/christian-dior-spring-2012-couture-36_124233127545.jpg> <http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-riGGGoUyJaE/TyXAWB7cgXI/AAAAAAAACC8/dxgvLfMr3Q/s1600/christian-dior-spring-2012-couture-candids-11_180127235720.jpg>

Figure 29: Marchesa. Spring/Summer 2009 RTW. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://allwomenstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/marchesa_ny_fw_2008_1.jpg>

Sarli, Fausto. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://www.modeyes.com/wp-content/gallery/sarli-altaroma-2009/sarli-9.jpg>

Wang, Vera. Web. 15 July 2012. <http://www.westchestermagazine.com/images/2009/WW%20spring/summer%202009/gowns/W ESTCHESTER-WEDDING_0778.jpg>

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IB Extended Essay  

International Baccalaureate Extended Essay in Visual Arts by Huong Nguyen.