The long-standing relationship between the house of Christian Dior and photographers dates back to February 12, 1947, when Pat English shot the designer's first collection in the label's home on 30 avenue Montaigne in Paris. Since then, world-renowned visionaries have photographed Dior's many collections, charting the development of the house's aesthetic. These star photographers include Richard Avedon and Horst P. Horst, who "established the canon of Dior iconography," Irving Penn, Cecil Beaton, and Helmut Newton, who "shaped the Dior vision of women into an archetype of fashion photography," and the most recent crop, Patrick Demarchelier, Peter Lindbergh, Nick Knight, and Bruce Weber. A new book Dior, The Legendary Images (June 2014, Rizzoli), captures this deep collaboration, featuring over 200 photographs from the label's near century-long existence (the tome has been published to accompany a corresponding exhibit of the same name, which is on display through September 21 at the Musee Christian Dior in Granville, France). The 1947-1957 section is dedicated to a time when only "privileged clients, models, and fashion editors, [had] the luxury of being able to see, touch, or wear the haute couture dresses that Christian Dior designed," assisting in "the birth of a couturier and the creation of a legend." this includes Richard Avedon's iconic 1955 photograph Dovima with Elephants, which shows a model posing in a Dior dress alongside circus elephants. The "Christian Dior Through the Lens of the Great Photographers" portion concentrates on imagery of the late designer, whether posing for his professional portrait or relaxing in his apartment on rue Royale, while "Sovereign Style" encapsulates the construction of a successful fashion shoot, highlighting one series, "Four Visions of a Collection," which captured Raf Simons's first haute couture collection through the eyes of Demarchelier, Terry Richardson, Willy Vanderperre, and Paolo Roversi, who have "brought a new dimension to photography that was truly to scale with a globalized world."
Left: Paolo Roversi, 2013. Silhouettes from the Autun-Winter 2013 Haute Couture collection.