cover image Dior


Rizzoli, Francoise Giroud. Rizzoli International Publications, $110 (325pp) ISBN 978-0-8478-0860-1

Dior ""loved his dresses as though they were people: they were his creatures until the day when they left his house,'' writes Giroud, former French minister of culture, in the brief but informative biographical essay that forms the first part of this beautiful book. Van Dorssen's photographs, supplemented by now-historic pictures by Horst, Irving Penn, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Cecil Beaton and others (and nearly indistinguishable in style and beauty from those by the master fashion photographers), bear out Giroud's description, revealing the fine fabrics, stunning craftsmanship and dramatic design with which Dior revolutionized the fashion industry in the post-World War II years. Giroud relates that Dior founded his fashion empire with the advice of two clairvoyants and that he was a country farmer between his first and secondand more successfulstints as a designer in Paris, and demonstrates how Dior's licensing agreements set a pattern for all designers. The photographs document Dior's relations with the most glamorous women of his time and behind-the-scenes activities in the ateliers and at shows. Dior died in 1957, only 10 years after introducing his first collection, which featured the ``New Look.'' But that brief career gripped the public imagination, and this well-designed book will remind readers why Dior's name is still synonymous with haute couture. (January 11)