Christian Dior

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 April, 2006, 12:00am

An insider's guide to your favourite fashion brands

Who started it? French fashion designer Christian Dior was born in Granville, France, in 1905. He moved to Paris at the age of five and studied at the Catholic Stanislaus College and Paris Institute of Political Studies.

After an apprenticeship at various fashion houses, he launched his label with textile businessman Marcel Boussac in 1946.

Dior shot to fame with his debut collection, dubbed the New Look, in 1947, which contrasted with the austere, conservative war-time fashion.

The collection featured dresses with rounded shoulders and full-flowing skirts that highlighted small waists, creating a highly feminine look. The designs revolutionised women's fashion.

He built on his success during the 1950s by launching a ready-to-wear line, stockings, perfume and lipsticks.

Dior died of a heart attack in 1957, aged 52. He was succeeded by his 21-year-old assistant, Yves Saint Laurent, whose well-received first collection, Trapeze, included triangular-shaped dresses with narrow shoulders.

In 1960, Laurent left the fashion house to do his military service and was replaced by Marc Bohan, whose first collection, Slim Line, came out in the following year.

Bohan remained at the brand until 1989, and created Baby Dior and Dior knitwear along with a menswear line.

In 1984, Bernard Arnault (who later founded the conglomerate LVMH) bought the brand.

Five years later, Italian designer Gianfranco Ferre was appointed artistic director and remained in that position until 1996. LVMH then made a radical move by choosing the present artistic director, British designer John Galliano, to create a new image for the house.

Who's behind it now? Galliano is the artistic director of womenswear, leather goods, shoes, lingerie and beachwear, and has taken the fashion world by storm with his theatrical designs inspired by the history of costume. He's been hailed by the media as the saviour of haute couture.

In 2000, Hedi Slimane was appointed design director of Dior Homme, and has since gained a strong following for his innovative tailoring, sleek silhouettes and elegance.

The look Galliano has moved on from the eccentric and colourful palette of earlier collections, to focus on elegant, feminine and wearable pieces. He's famous for his versatile evening dresses, which he included in the spring/summer 2006 collection in the form of sheer chiffon styles, ranging from nude to orange and fuchsia. It also features big 1980s-inspired organza shirts matched with washed leather pants. For the upcoming autumn/winter collection, he presented a Gothic rock-chick look, with models sporting iron-straight hair, bandanas and oversized sparkling sunglasses.

The spring/summer 2006 Dior Homme collection was inspired by the English Mod and includes drainpipe pants and slim fitting jackets, cut high in the back with elongated tails dangling in front.

Defining fashion moment: Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the New Look, Galliano presented his first collection in January 1997. The show created a frenzy similar to the original New Look show, with models in mini-skirted daysuits and evening gowns embroidered with colourful African beadwork.

Who swears by it? With its sizzling ad campaigns, Dior has created a younger and sexier look, attracting celebrities such as Madonna, Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow and Reese Witherspoon.

Where: Christian Dior's global empire includes nine shops in Hong Kong. Christian Dior, the Landmark, Central, tel: 2524 8277