I am sitting here in Granville France, at the Garden and childhood home of one of the worlds most beloved and renowned designers. Christian Dior, a beacon of sophistication and french elegance played here as a boy and as he grew up he helped shape and change this garden, just as he did the world of fashion.
It is a beautiful clear day, not a cloud in the sky, and I can see across the reflection pool a painter is setting up his easel to capture the hot sun bouncing off the delicate flowers. Roses, everywhere I look I see roses. Pinks, oranges, creams and blushes all in layers of colour resting and drooping down from the row of pergolas lining the garden paths. There is a stillness here; the grounds and manor house propel me back in time and I can envision the sort of grandiose lives the Dior family enjoyed here. Quite a summer retreat. I suppose growing up in such an environment would enable a certain freedom and instill a particular standard of beauty.
I can see this place expressed in Dior’s designs. Blousy, powdered colour palettes, a definitive combination of fragility and structure. The swooping necklines and curved bodesses of the 1950’s mimic the same natural bow of a stem holding onto a heavy bloom. It’s almost as if he picked flowers from this garden, and with a magic wand transformed them into cocktail dresses. Not too long ago I had the opportunity to see an exhibit of Dior’s fashions at a local museum, and very much like today I left feeling enriched and inspired.
A garden is always an enriching experience, as is a museum. Learning about the history of the Musée Dior and the important part this home played as a refuge for the family during the second World War, has instilled in me a strong sense of gratitude. I am grateful to be here, to see this beauty and learn about a designer I have always admired. I am thankful for his talent and that despite the ugliness he may have had to face in his life, he not only persevered, but managed to achieve such great success. As history recounts, this garden was one of the first places where he expressed his artistry, as he, along with his mother played a fundamental role in its design. It seems that whatever challenges he faced, he was always sure of his artistic aptitude and never gave up on his true passion.
Christian Dior called his very first collection Corrolle, translated to mean a “circlet of flower petals”. The ephemeral quality and delicacy of flowers proved to be the biggest inspiration for one of the most admired and cherished designers of the ages. I hope to come back here again one day, to reflect further on my own artistic pursuits and feel inspired again.
My attempt to honour Christian Dior is through my Belgravia Bouquet, featuring powder blue hydrangea, white and pastel pink garden roses, my own interpretation of a circlet of petals.