To the delight of design and fashion aficionados alike, historian Maureen Footer did a deep dive into the world of Christian Dior. The result is Dior and His Decorators, which details how designers Victor Grandpierre and Georges Geffroy collaborated with the fashionista on his residences, his couture house and more. We caught up with Footer to learn more about her inspired tome.
What was your motivation for writing Dior and His Decorators?
I have long been fascinated by how fashion and interior design express the same aesthetic in two different languages. Discovering Dior (who had dreamt of being an architect and was therefore very aware of his interiors) as well as Victor Grandpierre and Georges Geffroy (the two Parisian designers he called upon to create his spaces) provided the perfect opportunity to explore this theme.
What interesting facts did you uncover while penning this book?
There were many fabulous surprises, some unearthed in the Dior archives, others found in the course of interviewing greats like Pierre Bergé and the Duchess of Harcourt, who knew these fascinating men.
Above all, three revelations stand out for me: First, that although they were inspired by the great French traditions for romantic dresses and grand interiors, Dior, Geffroy and Grandpierre approached their work with a modernist’s sensibility. Second,that Grandpierre developed not only the iconic interiors of the Christian Dior couture house but an entire form of visual presentation for the brand — perfume bottles, packaging, even signage. And lastly, how dramatically our own moment of momentous transition echoes the era of the New Look.
What are some of your favorite spaces featured in the tome?
I have to cite the iconic interiors by Grandpierre for the Dior couture house; its pristine gray and white rooms echo the themes of New Look interiors as well as Dior’s philosophy.
In residential design, Dior’s own home in Paris shows all the exuberance, optimism, craftsmanship and detail of his exquisite clothes.
Dior’s yellow bedroom and neoclassic bath in his house in Provence illustrate his interest in architecture and the 18th century.
And Gloria Guinness’s Paris living room by Geffroy — overscale, bold, restrained, eclectic, classic — looks as relevant today as it did in the 1950s.
Why is this book important in the worlds of fashion and interior design?
Dior and his decorators remind us how history can inform, enrich and inspire our interiors and add perspective to our understanding of the world at large. In our moment of technological revolution, global changes, geopolitical transitions and political disruption, referring to history can be an invaluable touchstone.