The worlds of flowers and fashion have long been intertwined and one man is the epitome of this beautiful marriage.
The late, great French fashion designer Christian Dior gloried in translating blooms into haute couture, much evidenced in the current exhibition at London’s V&A: Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams.

Christian Dior (1905–57), Avril, Dress, Haute Couture, Spring/Summer 1955, A Line
Gift of Mrs. Philippe Hecht, 962.18.A-B
Photo © Laziz Hamani

Object courtesy of the Royal Ontario Museum Dior Héritage collection, Paris 

These gorgeous gowns echoed the seductive shape of his favourite blooms. ‘I designed clothes for flower-like women’, he would say later, ‘with rounded shoulders, full feminine busts and handspan waists above enormous spreading skirts.’
His floral fascination can be traced back to his mother Madeleine, who created a beautiful garden around his childhood home in Granville. As a child and young man, he devoured gardening catalogues, absorbing shapes and styles that he would then go on to emulate throughout his career.

Here, alongside his most stunning creations, you will find an exploration of his long love affair with flora. A separate section titled ‘The Garden’ focuses on his passion for horticulture and highlights the importance of flowers and gardens as a source of inspiration for his designs.
The French designer wasn’t shy of declaring his debt to flowers, famously saying: ‘After women, flowers are the most lovely thing God gave to the world’. He put this into practice in one of his first collections in 1947. Alongside his famous ‘New Look’, he created ‘Corolle’, named after the corolla of a flower. 

Christian Dior (1905–57), Fête joyeuse, Evening Dress, Haute Couture Spring/Summer 1955, A Line
Photo © Laziz Hamani
Victoria and Albert Museum, London 

Dior’s signature flower

By far his favourite flower though was the delicate Lily of the Valley. A French token of good luck since the sixteenth century, he would tuck fronds of it into the hems of his fashion models in an attempt to make his shows run smoothly. It was also the basis for his most famous fragrance ‘Miss Dior’. This perfume would also be sprayed liberally around the runway dressing rooms. He was obviously a superstitious man who liked to leave nothing to chance!
So, through silhouettes, embellishments, prints, embroidery and fragrance, Dior fully embraced the world of flowers and made the world a more beautiful place as a result.

CHRISTIAN DIOR: DESIGNER OF DREAMS is at the V&A from 2 February – 14 July 2019
vam.ac.uk

Main picture credit: 

Royal Portrait of Princess Margaret on her 21st birthday Photograph by Cecil Beaton (1904–1980)
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London