[by Marjolein] This summer it is seventy years ago that Christian Dior rocked the fashion world with his New Look: big bosoms above a feminine small waist and a fan-like full skirt.
It all started in a beautiful pink villa in Granville, Normandy: Villa Les Rhumbs. This idyllic childhood place – now a museum – with cliff-top gardens looks out over the Atlantic. Christian and his beloved baby sister Catherine spent their summers here with their parents, surrounded by friends. High time for a renewed look into the man and what inspired him at the special exhibition Christian Dior & Granville.
“My childhood home had pastel pink rough cast walls mixed with grey gravel, and these two colours later became my preferred shades in fashion.”
Les Rhumbs’ garden scents
Brief summary: Christian Dior was born in 1905 as second child in a wealthy family in Granville. When Christian was five years old, the Dior family moved to Paris and used Villa Les Rhumbs as a summer residence. His mother Madeleine designed a rose garden and the love for flowers and their scents was instilled in Dior from a very young age. Floral patterns are typical elements of the Dior style.
After being on my list for a long time, I finally walk into the Dior garden on a bright sunny day last month. The first thing I notice, is the abundance of all sorts of pink hydrangea. Cannot resist taking close-up photos.
I also see modern info signs all over the place with metal flaps underneath. This is mysterious… I open a flap and smell. Of course: the Dior perfumes. How neat, every sign has its own Dior perfume. The most famous of course is Miss Dior. This was the nickname of Christian’s sister Catherine. Out of admiration for her – she was awarded with a medal for her important work in the Resistance – the perfume Miss Dior was born in 1947.
Villa Fantastic aka Les Rhumbs
But lets leave the garden for now, I am more than curious about the inside of The Dior Villa Les Rhumbs. It is beautiful and surprisingly cool and very recently renovated.
Think white rooms, big glass display areas and lots and lots of gowns. One even more stunning than the other and I enjoy exploring the details from up close.
After enjoying four floors with fashion, film, furniture and photos, I sit down in the veranda and look out into that lush flower garden. Time for contemplation. After admiring this perfectly balanced collection, one understands where Christian got his inspiration from.
The final stages of the Belle Époque, his happy and carefree childhood, costume balls, horticulture, gourmet food, the Renaissance era, visits to nearby Jersey and Guernsey, music and of course the spacious nearby beaches.
I buy some packets of Miss Dior bio jasmine green tea in the small but delicate museum shop, so I can reminisce some more back home. About all this prettiness in pink.
Christian Dior & Granville exhibition until September, 24 More info