> Revealing the Inspiration for the Dior Fall 2007 Couture Collection <
First in Words, then in Pictures - The First 10 DRESSES of the Show !

~ Posted October 3, 2007 at 8 PM - The First 10 of the 45 Exquisitely Designed Looks! ~
The story: I looked and looked for any site that may have already uncovered the paintings and pictures that John Galliano had used as the inspiration for the Fall-Winter 2007 Dior collection, but when I couldn't find anyone who did it, I immediately took it upon MYSELF to be the one. And, in combining that desire with the time and energy it takes to do such research, I have found way MORE than I expected, and I now give you the first 10, fully captioned, but preceded by
a surprise-filled essay (below) that puts it ALLLL IN CONTEXT! :^D

Beware of originality; in women's fashion, originality can lead to the masquerade.
-Coco Chanel

(Note: If you don't feel like reading this through, just check out some of the salient points, which I have BOLDED. :-D)

To start with a quote from Mademoiselle Chanel may seem unusual, but I will explain: Before the Second World War, the chief designer in Paris was Coco Chanel; after the War ended, however, it was Monsieur Christian Dior who emerged as the great new designer in Paris. Monsieur Dior, a former art dealer and art collector, had his defining moment in the debut presentation of his 1947 fashion line, in which he introduced the so-called “New Look,” which consisted of narrow shoulders, an accentuated bust, a narrowed waist, a broad A-line skirt, and high heels, at first presented with a wide "coolie" hat to balance out the proportions, but usually without it afterward (and you will being seeing many examples and variations in the following gallery). Monsieur Dior employed more than 80 yards of fabric at times, and the New Look was the cause of much public outrage at the time, as there had been a shortage of textiles in France, and life was still just getting back to normal again. Yet despite all that, he nevertheless went ahead and deliberately shocked everyone with his unabashedly extravagant use of fabric and a stunningly exaggerated silhouette, which was indeed a drastic departure from the straight-down silhouette that had been so long established and popularized by Chanel in the ’30s. As quoted above, Chanel had warned other women to “Beware of originality; in women's fashion, originality can lead to the masquerade,” and said that, undoubtedly, with the message that “ the masquerade” was, for a stylish woman, the negative result of trying "too hard," of too much effort, too much art, and was terrible, impossible, unthinkable—and yet, for Monsieur Dior, and for the most talented heir to his legacy, the British designer John Galliano, the goal is not to make clothes that are unthinkable, but rather to make clothes that are unimaginable—and unimaginably amaaaaazing.... And, after all, why should life not be about the pleasures of self-expression and beautification? Ah, behold! The Bal des Artistes! The greatest masquerade ever produced...

Now, writers and sociologists have said that all the world's a stage, and countless fashion-lovers have said the world is one big catwalk, a vast runway of millions of models, but why should we not go a step further and say that all the world's a masquerade? We all wear masks in one way or another...or do we? Oscar Wilde said that, "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth." And does that apply to Woman as well? And who is really to say when a person is being their "true" self and when they are being "false"? For example, is a young woman more herself when she dresses up, or less herself? The ultimate question is whether we are allowed to realize our dreams of what we most want to be, or not. But no matter what you you personally believe, I don't think there a woman in the world who wouldn't appreciate the insight of Monsieur Dior, encapsulated by his remark that, “A ball dress is your dream dress, and it must make you magical...” It is no wonder that the shape he introduced to the world in the Spring of 1947, with the accentuated bust, narrow waist, and calf-length A-line skirt, continues to be the most popular and even obvious silhouette for young women for their proms, and can still be seen at any type of high-class formal party where a woman may want to make a big and lasting impression.

In every season of his career as a designer, Monsieur Dior captivated France, Europe, and America with his consistently daring vision of how a woman could present herself, and his various silhouettes are instantly recognizable, as they are influential and have continued to be so, in every subsequent generation of fashion designers. Upon Dior's untimely passing in 1957, the French national newspaper, Le Monde, called him a man “whose name has become synonymous with good taste, art, and the living symbol of refined culture—all that was Paris in the popular consciousness.” And his vision lives on, right to this very season, as the Dior label continues to hold its own against every other label, many of whom clearly owe a massive creative debt to the man himself.

For Fall 2007, John Galliano, a British designer of Gibraltarian descent, took the 300-year-old L’Orangerie (orange grove) of the royal Château de Versailles—that is, the one-time home to the Sun King, Louis XIV, and Marie-Antoinette—and turned it into a spectacular catwalk show and celebrity-studded party, where he celebrated his own 10-year anniversary as the Creative Director of the Maison Dior, but also commemorated the 60th anniversary of the house by bringing Monsieur Dior’s own curated art collection to life, as Monsieur Dior had been an art dealer and collector before becoming a fashion designer and setting to either deliberately or subconsciously synthesizing and individualizing the work of so many of the most outstanding photographers, illustrators, and painters the world has ever known.

“One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art,” said the witty Irish writer Oscar Wilde, and it would seem that what Monsieur Dior, the most groundbreaking fashion designer of the 20th century, would say is: “Be a work of art,” or rather “Be a work of art by wearing a work of art.” Monsieur Dior’s most famous statement was that his objective as a designer was to “save women from Nature,” and, well, what better way to save them from Nature than by turning them into works of Art?

Something else that Oscar Wilde said was that “Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months,” and so, as the 18th-century French letter-writer, Julie de L’Espinasse, put it, “A woman would be in despair if Nature had formed her as fashion makes her appear.” Coco Chanel herself reiterated that, “Fashion is made to become unfashionable,” and it was another 18th-century French writer, Sebastien Nicholas de Chamfort, who made the observation that “Change of fashions is the tax which industry imposes on the vanity of the rich.” And that, I suppose, amusingly, is something the fashion business still imposes on its consumers right up to today. Monsieur Dior, working in the late 1940s and early-mid-1950s, was known for making drastically different changes from one season to the next, which Galliano continues in a shockingly cross-cultural way, in both his Haute Couture and Ready-to-Wear collections for the Maison, always integrating such disparate elements that the word “mind-boggling” appears in more than a few Google results pertaining to his work.

Monsieur Dior pioneered the practice of licensing out his name in order to stave off the work of imitators, thereby starting the globalization of luxury, which Galliano later expanded upon, in the form of dozens of upscale boutiques worldwide, and in his integration of countless different fashion lexicons in his interpretation of the many different Dior looks.
Three Quotes from Christian Dior are apropos of that:
> “Having taste means having your own taste.”
> “If you are sincere and natural, the real revolutions will take place without your trying.”
> “You don’t have to search for a revolution; just be natural.”

As the fashion writer Marie-France Pochna noted, “Dior made public his opinion that ‘the supremacy of French quality and of our creative talent’ could provide a new source of economic activity, by commercializing a tradition of taste and elegance that was distinctively French.”  Yet it was the 19th-Century American writer, Oliver Wendell Holmes, who said that “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprung up,” and Galliano has taken the distinctively French look envisioned and actualized by Dior, and re-appropriated it in such a variety of ways that it's hard to believe that it has been the same Chief Designer behind all of these collections. So, how is this so differently from the work of his predecessors? Answer: because he has both modernized and globalized Dior's signature style—which is almost redundant to say, as modernization usually means globalization, but in this case it denotes both that these fashions are created through the involvement of different cultures, and made for members of different cultures.

In the year 1754, the great 18th-century British scholar Samuel Johnson wrote: “Of the fashions prevalent in every country, a few have arisen, perhaps, from particular temperatures of the climate; a few more from the constitution of the government; but the greater part have grown up by chance; been started by caprice, been contrived by affectation, or borrowed without any just motives of choice from other countries.” One review of the Dior Fall 2001 Couture collection said: “Uplifting and exuberant, the Dior show proved that fun and serious fashion are not incompatible. ‘All the ethnic research was great inspiration,’ said Galliano. ‘But ultimately, the collection is about the lyricism of fabrics and clothes.’” And it is just as true of this season's Couture collection, which brings so many great classical and modern art-portraits to life, and with 45 models who themselves are from over 30 different countries.

In his unique genius for successfully synthesizing so many different forms and definitions of beauty, Galliano has built innumerable bridges through his chosen form of art, attracting shoppers from all over the world to the quality and the craftsmanship of unique, impeccable, and stunning fashion design, that his work for the Maison has brought in top profits year after year, which proves that Galliano comprises the role of both artist and businessman, something that Monsieur Dior boldly trailblazed in his own time. As he says: “That's what I'm working for—the couture house of the future.” The only way to shape the future, at least for the better, is to know of the past, and this collection has shown a historical knowledge and understanding that is unlike anything we have ever seen before....

~ 8 Relevant Quotes (and then the Gallery!) ~
"To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the house of Christian Dior we explored Mr. Dior's first collection, not of fashion, but of his favourite artists," Galliano stated in the notes supplied to his audience. "Using the spirit of the Neo-Romantic artists his gallery represented, we have created the ultimate Bal des Artistes." [So much for "the masquerade" meaning something negative...!] "This season each look evokes the essence of a great master in art history. The cut, silhouette and embellishment of each outfit is lead by the spirit of each artist's style, referencing their inspirations and techniques."
The London Independent
According to one French fashion site, it was “une démonstration étourdissante grâce à des moyens époustouflants,” that is, “a dizzying presentation thanks to astonishing means.” Yes!
– www.madame.lefigaro.fr
Galliano has once more produced a formidable, breath-taking display of his mastery of cut, tailoring and style.
– www.quissumfashion.blogspot.com
These were sophisticated, structured clothes, modelled predominantly by grown-up women, with the sexy curves to do each creation justice. (Ah! The Best!!!)
– www.vogue.co.uk
American model Shalom Harlow, one of the many top models in the show, said of Galliano:
“He invites you into a world of fantasy, and he consistently pushes the realm of his own imagination; he's constantly exploring creation and fashion and fabrics and all that it means.”
– elle.com
“If Dior is the Watteau of dressmaking, full of nuances, chic, delicate and timely—then Balenciaga is fashion’s Picasso. For like that painter, underneath all of his experiments with the modern, Balenciaga has a deep respect for tradition and the pure classical line.” – mid-20th-century photographer Cecil Beaton
But why include this? Compare with the following:
"There's a close proximity in their talents. John has many creative talents that are close to those of Mr Dior himself and this is the reason why I chose him 10 years ago," Bernard Arnault, head of LVMH which includes the Dior brand, said.  "They share the femininity and romanticism but also the modernity and extravagance ... Christian Dior was not classical at all in the 1950s. He was revolutionary. Today he looks classical. It is like Picasso.”
– www.reuters.com
Christian Dior's first collection in 1947 introduced a sharply feminine silhouette with a nipped-in waist, opening on to a long-hemmed voluminous dress made with 20 metres of fabric, a style some critics deemed obscene after years of war shortages. “I have designed flower women,” Dior was quoted as saying of his style, which Carmel Snow, editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar, was reportedly responsible for renaming [the] "New Look."
– www.news.com.au

~ 1 ~
To the right: Brazilian model Gisele Bundchen, showing off a new interpretation of Dior's New Look silhouette, which was introduced in 1947 and caused an incredible amount of controversy in Paris for its overuse of fabric at a time when there was still a post-war fabric shortage. To the left is a detail from the March 1948 cover of Vogue.
Photos by American photographer Irving Penn of his then-wife, the Swedish model Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn, who appeared on more magazine covers from the 1930s to the 1950s, than any other model in the world. She is said to be the world's first supermodel, and once described herself, supermodestly, as a "good clothes-hanger"!
The January 1950 issue of Vogue said: "If fashion documents were the only ones in existence, it would still be possible to trace with some accuracy the social and political history of a period. Since fashion is our business, we devote these pages to recounting in this way, the tale of the last half-century: that recent history which, just because so recent, frequently presents to myopic man an image more blurred than that of distant periods. Irving Penn, among the most gifted of photographers, has reconstructed with imaginative insight a series of fashion landmarks: the clothes, the accessories, coiffures, make-up, settings – and, in this net of physical properties, has caught the mental attitudes of past times." You will see that Galliano has done the same, in his own brilliantly synthesizing of completely different styles from different cultures and time-periods. This collection is, I would say, the most ambitious that has ever been created by him, or any designer, for that matter.




While Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn was the world's top model for nearly 30 years, Gisele Bundchen holds the current title of World's Richest Supermodel for at least the past 3 years now, according to Forbes magazine. She is both the highest paid and the one with the most contracts, and pulls in some $33 Million a year. Now if that doesn't induce an instant case of "status anxiety" in a man, then...he probably doesn't care about women...or money...or...life! (Probably, right?)




Vogue cover from the late 1940s.







"I think it's better when you're natural, when you just do whatever you want, instead of doing classes where I see all these other people holding back because they've been trained with certain skills or techniques. I'm like,
A design by the French artist Jean Cocteau, which was used on the back of a jacket by one of Dior's contemporaries, the Italian designer Elsa Schaiparelli. I felt it went well with the symmetry of the above image...
Detail from the the painting titled "Sophistication" by early 20th-century American painter Harry Wilson Watrous.
Vogue cover from March 1, 1947, by Rene R. Bouche -- Was this a foreshadowing of the Dior's New Look, or just a similar look from the time? Hmm...
Vintage illustration by Rodger Duncan, from the Fern Mitchell Fashion Illustrator Network online.



Vintage illustration by Lawrence Mynott, from the Fern Mitchell Fashion Illustrator Networks online.
Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn in Vogue magazine, from January 15, 1940, and Gisele Bundchen, from the the Dior Spring/Summer 2003 ad campaign. Note the curve of the hand on the book, and the curve of the lip... Nice!
A wider view of the March 1948 Vogue cover...who's that guy sitting on the floor and painting?? Awesome.






~ 2 ~
Deutsch-Brazilian model Raquel Zimmermann, and the Vogue cover from March 1, 1953, by Erwin Bluementhal,
A photo-portrait of Lord David Cecil, by Cecil Beaton (yes, same name twice).


~ 3 ~
Italian model Mariacarla Boscono -- From her interview on Fashion File: "Models--they're probably like the most sensitive, insecure girls ever. Why? Because we always have to, like, prove our beauty, and this is like very inhuman, you know? Because beauty is just beauty, you're born like that! If you think I'm cute, all right, if you don't think I'm cute,
Photo-portrait of German actress Marlene Dietrich from 1942, by German photographer Horst P. Horst (yes, same name twice in a row!).
Photo "White Sleeve," by Horst for Vogue, 1936.
Three photo-portraits by Cecil Beaton: actress Gertrude Lawrence; then the socialite Paula Gellibrand, Marquise de Casa Maury; and then Gertrude Lawrence again. Clearly, Beaton was fond of this particular concept.
Close-up the portrait titled "Sitting Algerian Almaiisa" by Italian painter Amadeo Modigliani, 1916.






~ 4 ~
Danish model Helena Chistensen; photo by Horst for the House of Givenchy, 1985 (actually).

A portrait of Paloma Picasso in a dress by Yves Saint Laurent, Paris, 1979.
"Mainbocher Dress" by Horst, 1936.
~ 5 ~
Drawings from the French artist and film director Jean Cocteau.
Polish model Magdalena Frackowiak, a popular face from the runway, now paired with some others :D.

That on the right would be a screen-still from Cocteau's 1936 adaptation of "Beauty and the Beast."







The defining New Look "bar suit" from Dior, 1947. Note the relation of picture #3 to picture #1, cooool...








"The negative is comparable to the composer's score and the print to its performance. Each performance differs
in subtle ways." -Ansel Adams, early 20th-Century American photographer.

~ 6 ~
Belarussian model Olga Sherer, and the Vogue cover from from September 15, 1936, by Rene Bouet-Willaumez.






Dior advertisement by French illustrator Rene Gruau, c. 1950. Before using the name "New Look" for the first collection, Monsieur Dior was going to use the name "Corolle," which is French for Corolla, which is the arrangement of the petals of a flower. As the dictionary puts it, the corolla is "the part of a flower that consists of the separate or fused petals and constitutes the inner whorl of the perianth." In the review of the Dior show for Style.com, the fashion critic Sarah Mower noted that “Color came in gradually, first through a hand-tinted 3-D rose whorled center-front on a white bustier dress…” And, if I may ask, who in the world could not be mesmerized by every walking flower of a woman in this bouquet of unimaginable beauty?
"Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers" by Russian-born painter Marc Chagall, 1913.




"Palette Hat" by contemporary American painter Nanette Biers; and then another fine image (It wasn't labeled!).

"Self-portrait in a Straw Hat," by French painter Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun, 1782. Vigée-Le Brun is widely considered to be the greatest female painter of the 18th Century. She is incredible!!!
Garfield, created by American cartoonist Jim Davis, and two Painter Smurfs, by the Belgian cartoonist Peyo.




Birdie the Early Bird, the greatest female painter in all of McDonaldland? Well, considering how clumsy she is when it comes to flying, perhaps she has chosen to spread her wings and take flight as an artist...!! :D
~ 7 ~
Ukrainian model Mariya Markina, and an illustration by Christian Berard from the cover of a French book about the The Ballet Russe (Russian Ballet) de Monte Carlo.
"White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose)" by Latvian-born American painter Mark Rothko, 1950.



"Since my pictures are large, colorful and unframed, and since museum walls are usually immense and formidable, there is the danger that the pictures relate themselves as decorative areas to the walls. This would be a distortion of their meaning, since the pictures are intimate and intense, and are the opposite of what is decorative." -Mark Rothko






Of his work, Rothko also said: "if you say you are moved only by their color relationships then you miss the point."

















One article about the recent (May 2007) auction of the painting started off by saying: "To the untrained eye, it resembles a Liquorice Allsort or a slab of Neapolitan ice cream." ... It sold for $75,000,000 (£36,800,000). And it says that the man who sold it had bought it even though he was "not even a Rothko fan at the time."
~ 8 ~
Send in the Harlequins ! The Arlecchinos ! Nay--the Arlecchin-aaaa ! (Huh? Read on--)
"Harlequin" by French painter Paul Cezanne, 1890, and Slovak model Michaela Kocianova. The Harlequin was the most popular comic servant of the Italian Commedia dell'Arte, popular in Italy from the 13th to the 18th Century). The Harlequin, or Arlecchino (pr. "Arlekino") in Italian, had an abiding love interest in the female servant Columbina, "and his lust for her was only superseded by his desire for food or fear of his master," as one description puts it. Columbina would usually be depicted in ragged, patched-up dresses, typical of a servant at the time, but "occasionally, under the name Arlecchina she would wear a motley similar to her male counterpart, as we see here! As Wikipedia says, motley refers to the traditional costume of the court jester or the harlequin character in commedia dell'arte." and that the harlequin wears an all-over pattern of diamonds "that is still a fashion motif"--and we can see that, right up to this season! :D It is also noteworthy that "During the reign of Elizabeth I, motley served the important purpose of keeping the fool outside the social hierarchy and therefore not subject to class distinction. Since the fool was outside the dress laws (sumptuary laws), the fool was able to speak more freely." There is a Slovak proverb that goes: "Blázon iba nad svojou škodou zmúdrie." That is: "A fool learns only at his own expense." How true!
Detail from "Au Lapin Agile," Pablo Picasso, 1904. The Lapin Agile (in English, "The Nimble Rabbit,") was a famous cabaret (performing venue) in the Right Bank of Paris. Picasso was known to hang out there in his early days as a struggling artist. Well, so much for that--the painting sold for $40,700,000 in 1989. (Are you getting all this?? I'm not.)




What happens next? I'll leave it to your imagination...
"Harlequin Dress" portrait of Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn by Irving Penn, 1950. The original print of this photo sold for $352,000 in April 2006. I could only imagine what any court jester would have to say about that...
From Shakespeare's King Lear, Act I, scene iv :

That lord that counseled thee
To give away thy land,
Come place him here by me,
Do thou for him stand:
The sweet and bitter fool
Will presently appear;
The one in motley here,
The other found out there.

Dost thou call me fool, boy?

All thy other titles thou hast given away; that
thou wast born with.

"Paul as Harlequin," Pablo Picasso, 1924. That must be her kid! Would that make him an "Arlecchinino" ? XD !!!
Awww, and now she's watching the dude grow up! How...twisted. Well, that's life as a performer, what can you do... The hat that she--and he--is wearing is a variation the bicorne, which in other instances is a hat meant to convey religious dignity or military status, as in the case of Napoleon the First...but here it is meant to make quite a mockery of all that. Anyway, yes, those would be yet two more from Picasso: A detail from "Acrobat and the Young Harlequin," 1905, and another detail from a painting of the same name from the same year--clearly this was a preferred subject of his at the time.




"Columbina's Little Tongue" by Russian painter Konstantin Somov, 1915. She happened to be wearing a tricorne, or three-cornered hat--nice!! She's ready for the masquerade! So yes, to put this in the language of the artist himself:
«Остерегайтесь оригинальности; в женской моде оригинальность может привести к маскараду.»
Or, in English: "Beware of originality; in women's fashion, originality can lead to the masquerade." -Coco Chanel
~ 9 ~
"Dancers Behind a Window-Blind" by French painter Edgar Degas, 1880, and Romanian model Irina Lazareanu. Two great quotes from Degas: "I assure you no art was ever less spontaneous than mine. What I do is the result of reflection and study of the great masters; of inspiration, spontaneity, temperament — temperament is the word — I know nothing." And: "The secret is to follow the advice the masters give you in their works while doing something different from them."Well Galliano is certainly doing that in two ways by reinterpreting these artistically depicted women by way of Dior, and reinterpreting Dior by way of these artists! Do I even need to say "brilliant"?!??
Below: Two details from "Prima Ballerina" (also known as "The Star" or "Dancer on Stage" - not to be confused with "Dancer Taking a Bow" which features a ballerina in the same exact pose, but holding a bouquet of flowers), 1878. The mid-20th-Century British art historian Kenneth Clark once wrote: "To anyone who is not an artist it must seem rather strange that Degas who could do anything — for whom setting down what he saw presented no difficulties at all — should have continued to draw the same poses year after year — often, it would seem, with increasing difficulty. Just as a classical dancer repeats the same movements again and again, in order to achieve a greater perfection of line and balance, so Degas repeats the same motifs, it was one of the things that gave him so much sympathy with dancers. He was continually struggling to achieve an idea of perfect form, but this did not prevent him looking for the truth in what might seem an artificial situation." And Degas himself confirmed this point: "One must do the same subject over again ten times, a hundred times. In art nothing must resemble an accident, not even movement."






~ 10 ~
American model Angela Lindvall, and "The Palm Leaf" by American painter Thomas Wilmer Dewing, 1906.


Detail from "Vétheuil" by French painter Claude Monet; 1901, and, in reference to that dress, The London Independent reported: "To fully appreciate the excess of haute couture, it is worth noting that one delicate, floor-sweeping gown in particular, appliqued with water lilies and inspired by Monet, required 70 metres of satin, organza and tulle and no less than 230 hours to make." Welp...
~*~ Vive La Couture ! ~*~
Detail from "Composition No.9, Blue Façade" by Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, 1914. What does her look say?







Ah, Merci ! Au revoir !!!





And YES, I will be revealing sources for ALL 45 Looks in sets of 10 !
Related Link: My "Story of Love" Gallery from a few months ago... Follow the narrative, and Enjoy! :D

Most paintings are from Wikimedia Commons -
The other classical paintings I found through a Google Image searches.
As for the quotations, I did the same, only with the ordinary Google page.

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