Abstract: Christian Dior: Forging a Global Network in Postwar France

Alexandra Palmer

Abstract

The meteoritic rise and international success of Dior has been repeatedly emphasized as a phoenix rising from the ashes of war-torn Paris. It was a stunning success, but one that bears closer examination in order to understand, not only how a 41-year-old French man created the leading postwar couture house, but how and why it grew in size, stature, and influence with branches and licenses around the globe. In twenty-two collections the influential and profitable brand of Christian Dior expanded to sell ready-to-wear fashions for women and men, furs, millinery, perfumes, shoes, accessories, jewelry, ceramics, and glass ware through Dior boutiques and licensees around the globe. Six years after opening, the firm had grown to include eight companies and sixteen associated enterprises across five continents. It was a phenomenal international growth that made the house of Christian Dior account for more than half the total export of Paris haute couture and 55 percent of all French exports. Christian Dior was an international household name, and as <i>Time</i> magazine noted in 1956, "He's Atlas, holding up the entire French fashion industry."