Christian Dior: The Man Who Made the World Look New

Marie-France Pochna, Author, Joanna Savill, Translator
Marie-France Pochna, Author, Joanna Savill, Translator Arcade Publishing $25.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-55970-340-6
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
A superstitious man who collected amulets and followed astrology, Christian Dior (1905-1957) established his couture house in Paris in 1946 upon the advice of a fortune-teller who had correctly predicted that Dior's sister, a member of the French resistance deported by the Gestapo, would survive. Dior's ""New Look,"" with its corolla skirts and narrow waists--a welcome change from drab wartime fashions and from the minimalism of Chanel and Lanvin--was an instant success. Son of a wealthy fertilizer manufacturer who went broke in the Depression, Dior, a discreet homosexual, had rebelled against his bourgeois father by embracing the artistic world of his mother, a horticulturist and expert on flowers. He opened a Parisian art gallery, exhibiting cubist and dadaist works in the 1930s. His decision to become a fashion designer came after a soul-searching trip on the island of Ibiza. An elegantly written, sparkling portrait of a pioneering arbiter of style, this candid biography reveals Dior as a spendthrift and tax evader, a tough, at times imperious boss, a captive of his own success--tormented by anxieties even in his sleep--who wasted himself in the frenzied pursuit of living like a lord to make up for years of struggle. Pochna's previous books include bios of billionaire Gianni Agnelli and fashion designer Nina Ricci. Photos. (Sept.)
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