Christian Dior S.A., commonly known as Dior, is a French luxury goods company controlled and chaired by businessman Bernard Arnault who also heads LVMH – the world’s largest luxury group.
Founded in 1946 by the eponymous designer Christian Dior, today the company designs and retails ready-to-wear, leather goods, fashion accessories, footwear, jewelry, timepieces, fragrance, make-up, and skincare products while also maintaining its tradition as a creator of recognized haute-couture (under the Christian Dior Couture division). While the Christian Dior label remains largely for women’s offerings, the company also operates the Dior Homme division for men and the baby Dior label for childrenswear. Products are sold throughout its portfolio of retail stores worldwide, as well as through its online store via dior.com.
Competitors to the House of Dior include, among many, the fashion houses of Chanel, Burberry, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, and Prada.
The House of Dior was established on 16 December 1946, in “a private house” at 30 Avenue Montaigne Paris B. However, the current Dior corporation celebrates “1947” as the opening year. Dior was financially backed by wealthy businessman Marcel Boussac. The new couture house became a part of “a vertically integrated textile business” already operated by Boussac. Its capital was at FFr 6 million and workforce at 80 employees.The company was really a vanity project for Boussac and was a “majorly owned affiliate of Boussac Saint-Freres S.A. Nevertheless, Monsieur Dior was allowed a then-unusual great part in his namesake label (legal leadership, a non-controlling stake in the firm, and one-third of pretax profits) despite Boussac’s reputation as a “control freak”. Monsieur Dior’s creativity also negotiated him a pleasant salary.
On 12 February 1947, Dior launched his first fashion collection for Spring–Summer 1947. The show of “90 models of his first collection on six mannequins” was presented in the salons of the company’s headquarters at 30 Avenue Montaigne. Originally, the two lines were named “Corolle” and “Huit”. However, the new collection went down in fashion history as the “New Look” after the editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar Carmel Snow exclaimed, “It’s such a New Look!”. The silhouette was characterised by a small, nipped-in waist and a full skirt falling below mid-calf length, which emphasised the bust and hips, as epitomized by the ‘Bar’ suit from the first collection.
At a time of post-war fabric restrictions, Dior used up to twenty yards of extravagant fabrics for his creations, favoring the luxury textiles of Robert Perrier. The New Look became extremely popular, its full-skirted silhouette influencing other fashion designers well into the 1950s, and Dior gained a number of prominent clients from Hollywood, the United States, and the European aristocracy. As a result, Paris, which had fallen from its position as the capital of the fashion world after WWII, regained its preeminence. The New Look was welcomed in western Europe as a refreshing antidote to the austerity of wartime and de-feminizing uniforms, and was embraced by stylish women such as Princess Margaret in the UK. According to Harold Koda, The Costume Institute curator in charge, Christian Dior credited Charles James with inspiring The New Look.