The story is legendary, and it has the charm of those tales one never tires of hearing. At twilight on April 18th, 1946, a question weighed on Christian Dior’s mind. Should he open a couture house in his own name? Suddenly, in front of the British Embassy, his foot struck an object. Upon spotting a star-shaped cog from a carriage wheel lying in the street on the Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, the future couturier had his answer. The fairy tale had only just begun.
His house would be founded the same year, 8 months later (8, his magic number!), and the sacred star he picked up that evening was lavished with attention, adorned with a virtuous satin ribbon, and would never leave his “office of dreams”, as he called his design studio.
Étoile (Star) was also the name of a look that first appeared in Dior’s collections with the Spring-Summer 1949 collection. Whether the look was Étoile du Nord (North Star), Étoile de mer (Starfish) or Nuit étoilée (Starry Night), the talisman informed the names of numerous other creations by Christian Dior. The lucky star sparkled by night, but also shone by day in Bonne Étoile (Lucky Star), a charming day dress from the Spring-Summer 1952 haute couture collection.
A protective symbol, the valiant star watched over the House and each of its Artistic Directors would pay tribute to it in turn. Étoile du soir (Evening Star) was the name Gianfranco Ferré gave to a pantsuit from the Autumn-Winter 1990 collection, while John Galliano reproduced Jean Cocteau’s star-shaped signature on a silhouette from the Autumn-Winter 1999 haute couture collection. For her first haute couture collection, for Spring-Summer 2017, Maria Grazia Chiuri chose the name Étoile filante (Shooting Star) for a velvet evening dress sumptuously embroidered with a motif radiating gold threads. Victoire de Castellane reinterpreted that delicate symbol in jewelry for the Rose des vents collection.
That lucky symbol, the original star found by Monsieur Dior – a simple piece of metal pierced at its center – now figures in the collections of the Christian Dior Museum in Granville, and is currently on display in the exhibition Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, through September 1st, 2019.
Reproduced as a gold pendant and offered to all of the House’s employees after fifteen years of seniority, it still carries the same aura of respect. And its stellar shape is still used like a signature on each of the House’s creations, like a secret code forever anchored in the destiny of Dior.