French designer Christian Dior was born in Granville, France in 1905 and founded his eponymous fashion house on the Avenue Montaigne in Paris in 1946. His first collection, presented in 1947 and dubbed the "New Look", shocked women of the time – accustomed to drab suits and post-war fabric rationing – with its bold, wasp-waisted silhouettes and peplums that signalled a return to luxury.
Christian Dior banked on his new-found fame with licensing deals to sell affordable luxuries like jewellery, scarves, handbags and makeup like lipstick and perfume. Dior died of a heart attack in 1957 and his assistant, Yves Saint Laurent, took over the reins at the fashion house, finding success with his trapeze-style dresses before heading off for military duty in 1960. Marc Bohan succeeded the young designer as creative director of Dior until 1989, followed by Gianfranco Ferré, before British fashion's "enfant terrible", John Galliano, took charge of the French fashion house in 1996.
John Galliano injected his famous theatricality into Dior, creating spectacular confections spun from exquisite fabrics season after season, ensuring headline-grabbing catwalk shows, a vast celebrity following and cult, best-selling accessories like the Saddle bag.
In 2011, Galliano was arrested for allegedly making anti-Semitic slurs in a Parisian café and dismissed from his post at Dior. His second-in-command, Bill Gaytten, stepped in to fill his shoes until April 2012 when Raf Simons, formerly of Jil Sander, was announced as the new creative director for Christian Dior.
By Brogan Driscoll & Jen Barton