In 1947 Christian Dior debuted his first collection “The New Look”, an unapologetically feminine line in contrast to the stark years of World War II. The collection, with it’s voluptuous silhouette (thanks to a nipped-in waist and full skirt) and luxurious fabric, was revolutionary, influencing other designers and the fashion industry for many years, and it re-established Paris as the centre of the world of Haute Couture design.
Dior ran his fashion house until his death in 1957 when Yves Saint Laurent was appointed as his replacement at just 21 years of age. His first collection was hugely successful but the following ones less so, and in 1960 he was called to the army.
Successor Marc Bohan - a more conservative designer - then held the reins for 29 years, enabling the house to remain at the forefront of fashion by producing innovative yet wearable, elegant clothes. Italian-born Gianfranco Ferré (the first non-French designer to take charge) took over in 1989 creating simple, more structured, slightly sober, refined, clothing. British John Galliano was in charge 1997 – 2012, a period famous for his controversial shows, and characterised by regal, grandiose gowns. Galliano’s replacement Raf Simons then designed less dramatic, well-groomed clothing, until 2016.
Maria Grazia Chiuri was appointed in July 2016 and is the first woman to hold the position of creative director in the label's history. She has arrived to reinvent Dior, and to inject some much needed feminism. “When you are a woman making clothes for women, fashion is not just about how you look, but how you feel and think” she says.
Her debut collection - inspired by female explorers such as Amelia Earhart, Freya Stark and Louise Boyd - included white t shirts shouting "we should all be feminists" and tulle skirts; her second featured navy blue workwear and denim. A very different feel to that of her predecessors, and an exciting change.