"The cardboard boxes were huge: long, wide, thick and solid. For photo sessions or exhibitions they would be brought up to Paris from the small town in the Touraine where the House of Dior stores more than fifteen hundred haute couture dress, and almost as many boxes of accessories. Within these boxes are the gowns that are too fragile or too heavy to put on hangers. Witnessing their opening is almost akin to taking part in a minor rite. Two people are required to bring out each box; the heavy lid is then lifted to reveal the sleeping beauty within. These fragile creatures must be woken with care, the tissue paper shaken gently away in order to restore them to life.
And what a life it is: The litany of dresses for all occasions from collections of the day -- “robes de jour, robes de fin d’aprés-midi, robes de cocktail, robes de restaurant, robes de cabaret, robes á danser, robes de petit diner, robes de grand diner, robes de gala, robes de grand gala” -- conjures up a whirl of images. But already the dream is working its magic. Age cannot wither their beauty, unique as it is to each of them and knowable only in their presence, like human beauty. Few of them are now in pristine condition. The great majority bear traces of their former days: a worn patch, a faded color, a hidden mark, a tiny snag. But above all this hovers an overwhelming sense of their presence, of the certainty that one day, one evening, a woman wearing this gown must have felt she was truly alive."
If you can only afford ONE vintage fashion book, then I can honestly say, this is IT. This oversize book contains 384 pages and is filled with the most beautifully photographed haute couture clothing you will ever find.
Christian Dior by Farid Chenoune
Published by Assouline Publishing 2007