Exploring 'Dior And The Artists' summer festival

Exploring 'Dior And The Artists' summer festival

Celebrating creative moments throughout the house's history

Image: Dior

Art has played a major role in historical fashion house Christian Dior's past, and present – and this summer, it's being extensively celebrated by the label with an innovative 'festival' of reflection

Having always placed a priority on the celebration of creativity in all forms, Christian Dior is going on an artistic journey this summer, a voyage that begins at the very end of the 1920s.

It was a time when Christian Dior himself, along with his friends Jacques Bonjean and Pierre Colle, ran a gallery in the centre of Paris and showed the work of artists he admired and knew: Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, Georges Braque, Marcel Duchamp, Christian Bérard, and more... It was an experience that allowed the future fashion icon to sharpen his skills in a unique way, the birth of an imagination that would take him to fascinating places when designing couture gowns. 

Fast forward to today – via Instagram – and the house's own icons are being revisited by contemporary artists such as Olympia Scarry, Liu Jianhua, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Joana Vasconcelos, Lara Baladi, Hannah Starkey and Carole Benzaken, who have delivered (and occasionally explain via interview) their vision of items such as the Lady Dior or legendary fragrances Miss Dior and J'adore.

The label's website is also spending the summer enjoying a cultural reflection of the key exhibitions that have peppered the House's history – the first retrospective of Christian Dior's work at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 1987 (which celebrated the forty years since his debut collection), plus the exhibition organised at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, 'Inspiration Dior' at Moscow's Pushkin Museum, 'Esprit Dior' in Shanghai, China, and most recently 'Miss Dior' at the Grand Palais in Paris.

Buro 24/7 Middle East explores the finer moments of Dior's summer festival saga:


Dior the Gallerist

The young Christian Dior dreamt of attending the famed Paris art school, Ecole des Beaux-Arts. However coming from a grand bourgeois family, his aspirations were firmly and repeatedly shot down, considered by his family to be beneath his social class. He moved to Paris anyway and passed his Baccalaureate. Hiding behind his studies at Sciences Po, Dior dived head-first into the artistic and cultural whirlpool of the 20s, and his father begrudgingly agreed allow him an art gallery. With the sole condition being that the Dior name didn't appear on the exterior, it opened in 1928, alongside with Jacques Bonjean and Pierre Colle, "at the end of a fairly dingy lane off the rue de la Boétie,"  the designer himself once recalled. It was here that the gallerists unveiled to the public some of the most fêted avant-garde masters of the time, and indeed surrealist movement. 

Dior's summer festival

Dior's summer festival


Dior the Collector

By the late 1940s, Christian Dior had launched his fashion career and maintained a passion for both Cubism and Surrealism. He liked to surround himself with works by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, with the watercolours and pastels of Christian Bérard, plus oil paintings by Leonid and Eugène Berman. He also exhibited resolutely classic taste, favouring paintings by Jean-Baptiste Corot (below), and works from the French, Flemish and Italian schools and the period of Louis XVI. 

Dior's summer festival

It was an eclectic mix, as he explained in the autobiography Dior By Dior: "I don't care about the rules of good taste because, in my house, they are superseded by my own taste which accommodates all this mixing very well."  

The portraits painted of the couturier himself serve to underline his deep attachment to artists. The work by Bernard Buffet (dated 1954) is perhaps the best-known portrait of Christian Dior... Formerly hanging in the drawing room of his private mansion on Boulevard Jules Sandeau, today it can be found in the historic boutique at 30 Avenue Montaigne. 


Dior the Friend and Confidant 

"How did I get to know my friends? Coming from different backgrounds, we met each other by chance, or at the discretion rather of those mysterious laws Goethe baptised elective affinities," states another quote from the book Dior by Dior. "We were simply brought together as painters, writers, musicians and decorators, under the aegis of Jean Cocteau and Max Jacobs." 

Back to the roaring 20s, and the young Christian Dior most definitely lived his life to the full, perhaps unaware that he was also forming bonds of friendship with some of the 20th century's most brilliant artists and intellectuals. The future couturier met the composer Henri Sauguet, poet Max Jacobs, the actor Marcel Herrand, the writer René Crevel, historian Pierre Gaxotte, fashion illustrator Jean Ozenne...  And a friend whom Dior grew especially close to; painter-illustrator Christian Bérard.

It was a group that frequented art galleries and the ballet, and meet with people such as Picasso, Radiguet, Satie, Aragon, Marie Laurencin, Fernand Léger and Jean Cocteau, each of whom influenced the designer greatly. Some 30 years late, his Autumn/Winter 1949-1950 collection even saw certain dresses called 'Picasso''Dali', 'Braqueand 'Matisse'. 

Dior's summer festival


A Homage to Christian Dior in Paris in 1987

One of Dior's most famous moments in history was made on 12 February 1947, when he presented his first two lines Corolle and En 8 in the bouquet-bedecked salons of 30 Avenue Montaigne in Paris, which became otherwise referred to as the 'New Look'. 

Dior art 3 summer festival

Forty years later, the Musée des Arts de la Mode paid homage for the first time to the couturier - and more than 154 garments and 300 documents were displayed over five stories providing a unique perspective on the house of Dior's origins.

Dior's summer festival


The Great Illustrators | Mats Gustafson

Dior has always maintained close links with fashion illustrators. From his first collections, the couturier collaborated with Christian Bérard and René Gruau, both of whom he also counted as close friends. 

Today, the tradition is continued by Mats Gustafson, a 63-year-old Swedish artist based in New York. Gustafson delivers his interpretation, season after season, of the Dior woman as conceived by the current Creative Director Raf Simons, and his exquisite drawings serve to underline the modernity and elegance Dior's new style. 

Related articles

Buro 24/7 Selection