The scent of childhood is the loveliest scent of all. For Christian Dior, this scent was rooted in the Granville family garden, perched on the cliffs of the Normandy coast, overlooking the Channel and scoured by the wind. This bucolic oasis created by his mother Madeleine gave Christian Dior a taste of paradise and a love of flowers that stayed with him throughout his life. The young boy would pour over the Vilmorin-Andrieux gardening catalogues that taught him everything about the flora he wished to tame. When destiny led him to the world of Haute Couture, he did not forget the scent of his childhood flowers, incorporating them into his collections. And they brought him success, in the form of the New Look and its flower-woman with her full corolla-shaped skirt and narrow calyx-like bodice. The Dior style was beautifully defined by flowers, his dresses scattered with individual blooms or bouquets, embroidered with meadow flowers or draped in the shape of a rose, like the Opéra Bouffe gown.

Claude Monet, Le Jardin de l’artiste à Giverny, 1900
Oil on canvas, Paris, Musée d’Orsay
© RMN-Grand Palais (musée d’Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Just like the impressionist painters, Christian Dior liked to draw his collections outdoors, in his garden at Milly-la-Forêt or La Colle Noire, surrounded by his silent muses.

Miss Dior perfume, 1947
© Philippe Schlienger

Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré and John Galliano, all keen gardeners, also decked the House of Dior collections in flowers with bold, brilliant, and expert touches. Raf Simons proved himself to be equally talented with his first Dior collection, featuring doubleface dresses, one side strewn with traditionally embroidered flowers, the other with contemporary floral ornaments. As for Maria Grazia Chiuri, she shows her dresses for blooming young women in enchanted gardens, decorating her airy ball gowns with discreet bouquets of hand-dyed silk petals that seem to rise from an herbarium. Thanks to the sophistication of the skills that make up the House of Dior, flowers in all their delicacy bloom again in the form of Haute Couture creations.