TWO other men, easily as interesting as William the Conquerer, came from La Manche, Normandy.
One, the sensational Christian Dior whose New Look, (1947) promoted by the American journalist Carmel Snow, began a democratization of style which fascinates Vivienne Westwood to this day. The other, is Roland Barthes, the mid 20th C writer, transforming the way we think about popular products, like Hollywood, cars, margarine, wrestling, strippers and especially Fashion…
I knew Granville was Dior’s birthplace and that his home is a museum, but didn’t know that this summer, 2012, celebrates the many Dior connections with the movies. On show, inside the house, La Rhumbe, seen above left, in pink, are Dior creations from 1947 to now. From the Robert Altman film Pret a Porter, to Jude Law in Dior Homme, from Fahrenheit; Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Ingrid Bergman, Natasja Kinski, Ava Gardner, Zizi Jean-Maire to Rachel McAdams, in Woody Allen’s, Midnight in Paris, all are costumed by the House of Dior.
Dior did not go back to Granville, once he was forced, by the 1929 Wall Street crash, and subsequent worldwide depression, to seek his fortune in Paris. I did go back. How could we not re-visit the gardens, perfumed with a cornucopia of blossoms, overlooking a spectacular coast? Then to discover that high on another hill, over the town, there were stories of Collette’s relationship, with the master couturier, in a museum space devoted to collections of Richard Ancreon, another of CD’s amis. Malcolm McLaren really got it right when he said Dior knew everyone.
It would be fun to think that Dior and Barthes met one day in, say, a cafe on the Boulevard Saint-Michel, when they were both around to sample the joys, and talk of the pleasures, in that most especially aesthetic of cities.
Above right is the illustration Anton Storey created for FASHION MEDIA PROMOTION the new black magic to encapsulate the ideas he and I have about Barthes.