I was recently struck by a piece in The Business of Fashion. The story highlighted Dior for the occasion of 70 years of the storied luxury house. What truly stood out was a single sentence...
"Upon his death in 1957, the brand accounted for five percent of France's GDP."
Imagine that. Christian Dior and his couture house held the economic power of an entire industry!
The financial potential of fashion and retail isn't new. From LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton's Bernard Arnault (current owner of Dior) to Kering's François-Henri Pinault (Gucci, Stella McCartney, Bottega Veneta...), it isn't unusual to see billionaires in the business.
What does get my interest is the influence that's much more difficult to measure. Is it any wonder Paris is still synonymous with style? And what about Dior? How palpable is its current influence in the City of Lights?
As tongues wag about the bold and progressive changes at Maria Grazia Chiuri's Dior, I find myself in near total agreement with the designer's groundbreaking direction. Christian Dior was a visionary in his time and the old ideas of what wooed shoppers then have little to do with consumer behavior and brand loyalty today.
We're seeing a sort of "casualization" of the couture house- but doesn't that speak to our times? In reality, there must be a balanced mix of ravishing gowns, semi-formal attire and casual looks for day. And what most of us do today often involves much more activity than yesterday's Dior style patrons.
As Monsieur Dior revolutionized what it means to look elegant in 1947 (Dior's New Look), Chiuri is conjuring the freshest version of the idea.
Let's celebrate the past, embrace the present and bring the most important principles of couture into the future: innovation, elegance and fine craftsmanship. In the end, it's only contemporary if it meshes with the times.