One day in 1946, before Christian Dior started his eponymous couture house, he was strolling through Paris when he laid eyes on a hotel that captured his fancy. On a street corner in the center of the city stood 30 Avenue Montaigne, a neoclassical building with an ornate, white façade. He thought it should be the home for his future fashion label. “It had to be 30 Avenue Montaigne,” he famously once said. “I was going to settle here and nowhere else!”
That December, he bought the building and converted it into a studio, showroom, and store. There, on February 12, 1947, during the worst winter Paris had seen since 1870, he showed his celebrated first collection, which came to be called the “New Look.” Models strolled down the catwalk in the elegant silhouettes that came to define Dior, such as the Bar suit, a nipped-waist jacket made of four yards of white silk shantung. In the main salon, he debuted Miss Dior, a perfume dedicated to his sister, Catherine, who was part of the French Resistance during W.W. II.
To celebrate the house’s 75th anniversary, Rizzoli has released Dior: The Legendary 30, Avenue Montaigne, which tells the history of the fashion house through the atelier and the people that have passed through its rooms, such as Jean Cocteau and Marlene Dietrich.
Dior once said, “My desire [was] to create a house in my name. A house where everything would be new.” Since then, the address has served as the headquarters for Dior’s successors: Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons, and, now, Maria Grazia Chiuri.
Two years ago, the architect Peter Marino began a makeover on the more than 100,000-square-foot space. The renovation was completed this past spring, and 30 Avenue Montaigne has reopened with a restaurant, pâtisserie, boutique, haute couture atelier, and a gallery that is now hosting an exhibition of the house’s history. —Elena Clavarino
Dior: The Legendary 30, Avenue Montaigne is out now from Rizzoli
Elena Clavarino is an Associate Editor for AIR MAIL