« Christian Dior, his musee imaginaire », Olivier Gabet

Extracts from the book.

Brassaï, Christian Dior in his apartment at 10 Rue Royale in Paris, late 1946 to early 1947
Granville, Musée Dior, Catherine Dior collection
© Estate Brassaï - RMN-Grand Palais

The place of Christian Dior within the museum world ‒ and within that of art history itself‒seems self-evident today. Various aspects of his multifaceted identity emerge from his autobiographical writings ‒ among which his book Dior by Dior comes across as particularly sincere ‒ and from texts by authors and biographers with access to the relevant archives: Dior the couturier; the inspired gallery owner; the brilliant writer and lecturer who captivated his audience at the Sorbonne; the postwar fashion visionary; the lover of ornament; the discreet player on the dazzling, exuberant stage of Parisian café society.

Dior by Dior seems to offer a relatively true reflection of his solid personal culture, which combined the contemporary taste and sensibility of his milieu with evocative ref-erences to painters or architects.[…]

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs in the 1930s
© MAD, Paris

Dior must have loved the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, judging by his discerning descriptions of the décor of his childhood home in Granville with its penchant for Japonisme, and of his subsequent Parisian homes and the architectural design of 30 Avenue Montaigne. With its non-profit status, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs had closer connections to Parisian high society than most national museums: its board members included both senior officials and representatives of the social elite where Dior the gallery-owner found his clients and Dior the couturier his admirers. [...]

Room from the exhibition “Décor de la vie en 1900-1925” at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, 1937
© MAD, Paris

Other acquaintances of Dior joined over the years, including his friend the architect Emilio Terry, an advocate of the “Louis XVI style” of neoclassicism tinged with surrealist fantasy. Christian Dior exhibited a number of his drawings and models at the Galerie Bonjean in 1933, including the double-spiral house that Salvador Dalí featured in his painted portrait of Terry the following year. This now famous model, presented at the MoMA in New York in the 1936 exhibition “Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism,” was donated by Terry to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in 1965.

There are a surprising number of connections between works in the collections of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and their presence ‒ actual or alluded to ‒ in Dior’s home or professional world.