Few fashion labels command as much esteem as Christian Dior, the eponymous French brand founded in Paris in 1946. Starting next year, Atlantans will be able to command its wares at the new shop slated for Buckhead Atlanta. (The multiuse development starts rolling open Thursday.) The Dior store, which will have a two-story custom façade and occupy more than 5,000 square feet, will anchor a newly announced parcel of the development that will break ground this fall. The store is the first in the market and will carry men’s and women’s ready-to-wear, perfume, and cosmetics.
It’s a luxury label we hear a lot. Jennifer Lawrence wears Dior to the Oscars; Natalie Portman and Charlize Theron have repped the brand. Fans range from Kate Moss and Gisele to Princess Diana. The store will be Atlanta’s introduction to Dior (beyond the pieces sold at Saks Fifth Avenue), so what’s the story and why is it such a big deal? First of all, it’s a house that still does couture (for the uninitiated, that means handmade custom clothing made in a Paris atelier than meets strict guidelines and can cost—well, we don’t want to say how much).
Second, its presence signifies a major triumph for Atlanta and its retail scene. “To have a legendary brand like Dior choose our destination is a testament to the world-class community of Buckhead, the city of Atlanta, and the Southeast region, as well as the beautiful place we are creating at Buckhead Atlanta,” said Morgan Dene Oliver, CEO of OliverMcMillan, in a press release.
Furthermore, of all the “lifestyle” and “luxury” brands out there, Dior was an original, pioneering license agreements in the industry, with launch after launch until streamlining back down in recent years. All the while, it maintained its reputation for Parisian elegance and quality. Here’s an abbreviated look at the label’s history:
1947 Christian Dior debuts his first collection, opulent and dramatic, in Paris. He is credited with bringing luxury and excitement—and, to critics, excessively full skirts and waist-cinching corsets—back to drab postwar clothing. It was revolutionary and influential, dubbed “the New Look,” and it helped restore a wartorn Paris as the epicenter of fashion.
1948 Dior opened a parfumerie and a ready-to-wear branch in New York
1950 Dior begins licensing the Dior name
1953 Dior shoes are launched with the help of Roger Vivier
1954 The first Dior boutique opens, in Paris
1955 The first Dior lipstick is introduced
1957 Christian Dior appeared on the cover of Time magazine in March. He died not much longer after of a heart attack at age 52. Instead of closing the company and upsetting the industry (not to mention licensees), Yves Saint Laurent takes over as artistic director of the house at just 21 years old
1960 Saint Laurent starts to get Beatier and more bohemian with his designs, and when called to join the army and leave the company, a more conservative designer, Marc Bohan, takes over
1966 The men’s scent Eau Sauvage (translation: wild water) is released
1967 The first Baby Dior opens
1969 Dior Cosmetics launches
1970 Christian Dior Homme (the men’s line, for non-francophiles) is launched
1973 The first ready-to-wear fur line is introduced
1981 The Willot Group files for bankruptcy
1984 Bernard Arnault buys the Dior label for “one symbolic franc”
1989 The first non-French designer, Gianfranco Ferré, takes over
1990 Dior opens boutiques in New York, L.A., Tokyo
1992 Licenses are cut to 150 (from a high of 280 in 1989). It will continue to cut licenses, ultimately becoming much more profitable
1997 The charismatic but controversial John Galliano, Givenchy designer, becomes the new creative director, injecting new life and drama into the brand
2000 Galliano becomes head of ready-to-wear, accessories, advertising, and communications, while Hedi Slimane heads up Dior Homme. Galliano’s risqué first photoshoot, by Nick Knight, starts the “porn chic” movement in fashion spreads
2007 Kris Van Assche takes over as artistic director of Dior Homme
2011 Galliano is arrested on allegations of anti-Semitic remarks made in a Paris café and is dismissed from the company. He is found guilty.
2012 Raf Simons, a Belgian designer first known best for his minimalist streety menswear, takes over the fabled brand. His work, modern and bold but elegant, has been applauded by major critics. In two weeks, his spring/summer collection will walk the Paris runways
2014 Ground breaks on a Dior boutique in Atlanta