On February 12, 1947, Christian Dior premiered his debut collection inspired by the inner whorl of petals in a flower and the numeral eight - Dior’s favourite number that also resembled the hourglass figure.
Part of the collection’s appeal was its abundant use of luxurious fabrics as well as an overtly feminine form created through the use of padded hips and busts. The response from the fashion press was overwhelmingly positive. Carmel Snow of U.S. Harper’s Bazaar quipped that the clothes had “…such a new look.” This phrase was widely repeated and soon Dior’s premier collection became known as the New Look – capturing world attention in the fashion and news presses as the epitome of post-war elegance and a beacon for all Parisian couture.
Dior’s artistic success was underscored by sound business practice. The company diversified through the creation of perfume, accessories, and boutique lines for overseas distribution. The most successful of these ventures was Christian Dior New York, which opened in October 1948. Similarly, Christian Dior Models Limited (London) was established in 1952 and Canadian clothier Holt Renfrew struck a deal in late 1951 to exclusively represent Dior in Canada. Mme Ginette Steinman from Dior in Paris oversaw the Holt Renfrew workrooms that reproduced Dior clothes for the Canadian market in Montreal.
When Christian Dior died unexpectedly in October 1957, the young talented apprentice Yves Saint Laurent took over. For 1958, Saint Laurent created the ‘Trapeze’ silhouette of tent-shaped dresses and coats for spring, and high waists for autumn. Both these collections created a fresh, aerodynamic silhouette that anticipated the younger path fashion would take into the 1960s while remaining loyal to Dior’s feminine styling. However, follow-up collections were not as well received and Saint Laurent was fired in 1960. Marc Bohan who had been the designer of the London-based Dior collections, replaced Saint Laurent as artistic director in spring 1961 and remained head designer of Dior until 1989.