Beyond the exhibit, the museum and surrounding gardens hold many clues as to what drove Dior artistically _ both in his theatricality and the aesthetic codes.
Dior, born in 1905, spent a happy childhood living in this three-story house, known as “Les Rhumbs,” nestled on the breathtaking Normandy coastline.
A series of personal blows swiftly plunged Dior into the experience of adulthood: his beloved mother died unexpectedly in 1931, and the Wall Street Crash forced the family to sell the house not long after. In later life, it seems he channeled these previous happy memories into his career.
“My life, my style owes everything to the house, the setting, the architecture,” he once said.
The annual Granville flower carnival _ which still runs today _ saw the young boy create floral costumes that he, with great pride, would give his family to wear.
It most probably sowed the seeds of his later creative work.
In another way, the richly colored garden, with scented roses and swathes of Lily of the Valley, shaped the young boy’s obsession with floral colors and shapes.
“In this house, you can see all the codes in Dior’s fashion,” Dior Archive head Soizic Pfaff said.
“The signature color of Dior couture is pale pink _ the color the house had been painted. Embroidered Lily of the Valley is another Dior code, taken straight from this garden. You also see the rose and the rose colors from the garden he loved appearing in the clothes. It’s all there.”
Sadly, Dior, who died in 1957, would never live to see the house _ which was turned into a museum in 1987 _ brought back to the style he knew.
“Stars in Dior” opens Saturday at the Christian Dior Museum in Granville, Normandy, and runs through Sept. 23. A companion book “Stars in Dior” will be available in France and Britain on May 23, and in other countries including the U.S. in September.