Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What I'm Reading: Christian Dior

For as long as I can remember I've had a fascination with France. I remember going to the library at the tender age of 11 and checking out books about speaking French ("Je m'appelle Beth!"). I took three years of the language in high school, and obtained a minor in French in college. Sadly, a foreign language is pretty much use it or lose it, so don't ask me to speak anything now.


I felt my love for all things French being rekindled while reading the book Christian Dior: The Biography, by Marie-France Pochna. Christian Dior was a French fashion designer best known for his design called the New Look, which debuted at the end of World War II. I don't necessarily consider myself a fashion designer, just an avid home sewist, but I still think it benefits me to know as much as I can about fashion history (I highly recommend Tim Gunn's book on the topic). 


I know what you're thinking, oh a biography...yawn! But honestly, I almost couldn't put it down! The author did a fantastic job of including historical context for Dior's life. Whether it was a beautiful description of his childhood home in Normandy, or the glitter of the Paris art scene, or the reality of Nazi-occupied France, I felt like I understood what influenced Dior. Being American, I'm pretty terrible at remembering all the history I learned in school, so I appreciated the author providing so much background. There were even long discussions about the world of fashion magazines like Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, and how they impacted fashion design.


After reading this book, I'm considering including others like it in my rotation of reading material. It's hard not to be inspired by famous designers, no matter their particular aesthetic. One negative word about this Dior book in particular; it was translated from the French publication, and as such there are quite a few errors, mostly in misplaced punctuation. Normally that kind of thing would drive me bonkers, but I enjoyed the content so much that I could forgive these mistakes.


What about you, have you read any books about particular fashion designers? Or do you think there isn't much place for that sort of high fashion among us mere mortals? Inquiring minds want to know!

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2 comments:

  1. You never can get too much inspiration! I recently read a book about the working conditions at the factories where our clothes are made. It was eyeopening to say the least.

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    1. Isn't it sad, back when Dior was starting his couture house he had seamstresses working right there, focusing on quality. Now nobody cares! Except us sewists of course :)

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