“He came, he saw, and he conquered.” And so begins the new book released today, titled Monsieur Dior—Once Upon A Time. Chronicling the professional years of the designer’s life, author Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni presents a veritable encyclopedia of the world’s social elite who flocked to Paris to shop at Dior along with an insider’s view of the couturier’s personal and professional life. Style.com/Arabia brings you ten takeaways on the life and work of the man always referred to as Monsieur Dior.
1—Though Monsieur Dior was known to be almost crippling shy, he was not timid when it came to consuming rich foods and had a penchant for cheeses from Normandy, sweets, and nuts, and would regularly dash off to the Restaurant Le Fouquet’s to snack on almond tarts. On one occasion, when he received a cake as a gift, he “hurried to the elevator…[and] went up and down five times so that he could finish it.” Indeed, food held a certain importance throughout Monsieur Dior’s life.
2—Apart from a hearty appetite, Dior’s second vice was Madame Delahaye—his clairvoyant, or fortune teller, on whom he was utterly dependent.
3—Although renowned for having a very kind and polite character, Monsieur Dior was no pushover. Young women in his reception or sales offices were fired for chewing gum, making fun of his dresses, or for sitting in a careless manner.
4—Monsieur Dior always dressed in a blouse blanche, or white lab coat, giving the impression of a doctor.
5—Monsieur Dior was known to give instructions to his maître tailleur while seated firmly behind a desk and waving a bamboo baton.
6—Though Monsieur Dior’s initial business strategy was to cater to an elite clientele consisting of ten customers from Europe and America, this all changed with the enormous success of the launch of his first collection featuring the post-war New Look.
7—The Rue Lepic Incident: While dressed in Dior’s New Look in the streets of Montmartre for a photo shoot, a model was besieged by two female stallholders who threw themselves on her, beat her up, and ripped off her clothes. Indeed, the glamour of Dior’s New Look introduced during post-war France came as a shock to many.
8—The House of Dior’s principal clients were generally in their forties, fifties or older, and Monsieur Dior’s main concern was that they looked soignée (proper and neat), not young.
9—Ahead of her leading role in Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Stage Fright, Marlene Dietrich sent a telegram to the director that read: “No Dior, No Dietrich.”
10—Against the advice of his fortune teller, Madame Delahaye, Monsieur Dior went to the Tuscan spa Montecatini Terme to lose weight; he passed away at the Spa on October 24th, 1957.