In this first, highly compelling episode of the podcast series “Mes Chéries: The Women of Christian Dior”, recorded at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, Oriole Cullen, curator of Modern Textiles and Fashion, and Justine Picardie, fashion editor and biographer, discuss two of the most important and most influential women in Monsieur Dior’s life: his mother and his sister.
An embodiment of Belle Époque society, Madeleine Dior, the founding couturier’s mother, lived a charmed existence. The wife of a wealthy industrialist, she could afford to dress well and, for the first part of his childhood, raised her son in a large, well-staffed villa overlooking the sea at Granville, where the expansive gardens, and his passion for spending time with her there to learn about plants and flowers, would exert an enormous influence on his later career.
His sister, Catherine, younger by twelve years, was also passionate about flowers, and would in adulthood become a highly successful commercial grower. They were very close, despite their age gap, and when their mother died prematurely, he became almost a surrogate parent to her. During WWII, this passionate and principled young woman joined the French Resistance and was ultimately captured and imprisoned. Her distraught brother turned to another trusted woman, his clairvoyant, to be reassured that he would be reunited with his beloved Catherine.