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The illustrious Paris fashion house celebrates sixty spectacular years in style as the original Paris store receives a magnificent revamp.

Dior's Coming of Age

The illustrious Paris fashion house celebrates sixty spectacular years in style as the original Paris store receives a magnificent revamp.

In its 60 year history the exalted house of Dior has not only witnessed, it has largely been responsible for the most defining moments in fashion history. From the New Look's exercise in excess that caused a not-so-quiet revolution, to the appointment of fashion's favorite maverick John Galliano half a century later who, following the master's footsteps, has made his own magnificent mark in history, while bringing new life to the house when it was needed most. As Chairman of LVMH, Bernard Arnault notes in Assouline's epic new tombe celebrating the 60th anniversary of fashion's most celebrated institution, "Christian Dior's successors as artistic director, beginning in 1957, have all unquestionably added luster to his aura, but it was with the arrival of John Galliano in 1997 that the power and influence of the Dior name began to expand, growing at an exponential pace. With his inexhaustible imagination, his endlessly inventive ideas, and his legendary shows – each one an extravagant spectacle combining his own poetic dynamic with the ageless traditional aesthetic of Avenue Montaigne – John Galliano has kept pace with this explosion in worldwide growth to establish the name of Dior as the unrivaled leader in the realms of fashion and perfume. Its legitimacy lies in its beginning roots."

To commemorate the exalted mark's golden jubilee in 1997 and marking the arrival of Dior's star designer, Bernard Arnault called on American architect Peter Marino to bring the 18th century location into the present. A decade later, a magnificent makeover realizes the creative dream of Arnault and Dior's Chief Executive Sidney Toledano. Christian Dior was a man who understood elegance. Even the most staunch opposers of the New Look's post-ration frivolity could not deny the beautiful restraint applied to such modern styles. The same ethos applies to Marino's reinvigorating revamp.

The brief was to bring a modern style, while retaining the signature style of the house; in short a modern reinterpretation of the original "hotel particulier" of 18th century Paris society. While the original marks remain; Monsieur Dior's much-loved medallion chairs, authentic architectural details and the house's hallmark gray (using no less than 56 different shades), Marino's makeover is no historical pastiche.

Upon stepping over the threshold one is greeted by Claude Lalanne's ironwork sculpture, vivified with fresh pink hortensias. Mirroring the flora, and indeed the flowers of Monsieur Dior's Granville garden, pixilated images of the flowers create a subtle, modern interpretation. In keeping with the contemporary, yet still incredibly classic feel of the salon – the main stipulation of Marino's brief – the vertiginous high rotunda ceiling is transformed into a modern zoopraxiscope of images, showing a visual chronical of the most defining fashion moments in the history of the house, and of course, images of Dior's beloved garden "The rotunda became an observatory through whose virtual windows we look up and beyond reality. In my imagination, meters of fabric in a Dior dress could be unfolded around the circumference of the rotunda. This became the canvas to display off-screen moving pictures through 16 virtual windows composed of 72 plasma screens " explains Paris-based celluloid artist Oyoram, responsible for the video technology within the store.


The salon stands as a testament to the history of savoir-faire, not only of the famed atelier, but to the French tradition of fine craftsmanship. Beautifully crafted consoles and tables by designer Hervé van der Straeten and Alasdair Cooke, nestle within the surroundings, adding to the environment's elegant surroundings "Dior is the label of elegance, refinement and of constantly unrestrained creativity. I am especially happy, after having designed the 'J'adore' perfume bottle, to have collaborated with Peter Marino in setting up the new version of the legendary boutique on avenue Montaigne. The results reflect this exciting house!" exclaims Van der Straeten.

Evoking an apartment feel, each room is warm and inviting, cohesive yet unique. Marino takes traditional materials such as silk and leather, and reinvigorates them with imaginative treatments for added depth and texture. For example, the gunmetal gray walls of the opulent room dedicated to the salon's luxurious cocktail gowns has an aged, haunting quality achieved through special paint effects, while the painted leather walls of intimate dressing rooms glisten under the lights.

The piece de resistance of Dior's new look is the re-opening of 30 Avenue Montaigne, the small ensuite area and the original site of Dior's first store. Now dedicated to special edition shoes from Dior's haute couture collections, the lavish new enclave, which has remained closed for the past 10 years was once famously frequented by Dior's distinguished clientele, such as the Duchess of Windsor who would pop in to buy gloves. Resplendently bedecked in real marquette pearls that line the luxurious room, silver silk that swathes the walls and silver silk carpets, the room glistens jewel-like.

The store is breathtaking without a doubt, but Marino's most successful achievement is that the sumptuous décor complements, rather than rival the label's luxury treasures Marino's backdrop is a dazzling tableaux for Dior's sublime creations.

Christian Dior by Farid Chenoune is available from Assouline, priced $125
HYPERLINK "http://www.assouline.com" www.assouline.com

(ISBN: 978 2 7594 0139 9 – French)
(ISBN: 978 2 7594 0162 8 – English)

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CITATIONS
I have been making mirrored glass artwork for a number of years. When I was approached to make original pieces for the Dior flagship store in Paris, I was very pleased since the opportunity to use language (in glass) I felt would be an interesting statement about the illusion of fashion and glamour and also to reference the use of mirrors in interior spaces, Versailles, for example. The concept of reflection, or looking at yourself through text installed on glass mirrors was a perfect fit.
Rob Wynne

"I am thrilled to be privileged enough to take part in this Christian Dior anniversary, thanks to Peter Marino"
Claude Lalanne

Collaborating with Peter Marino is a source of energy. It pushes you further and further, creating constant challenge.
Andre Dubreuil


Dior is the label of elegance, refinement and of constantly unrestrained creativity.
I am especially happy, after having designed the 'J'adore' perfume bottle, to have collaborated with Peter Marino in setting up the new version of the legendary boutique on avenue Montaigne. The results reflect this exciting house!
Hervé Van der Straeten

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