Christian Dior's Chateau de la Colle Noire has been masterfully restored by the maison
Christian Dior’s beloved Château de la Colle Noire has been carefully restored, with many of the rooms
just as the design maestro left them
The 19th century-inspired small salon is brimming with
avian motifs such as swans OPPOSITE: The south-west façade of the graceful manor house, which dates back to the 15th century. Christian Dior bought it in 1951, and it was briefly a haven; he died
suddenly in 1957, aged 52
Emerald silk curtains frame the view out to the gardens of La Colle Noire. Dior planted 150 almond trees to scent the air each spring OPPOSITE: A cypress-lined driveway leads up to the Provençal château
After nearly half a century of neglect, the French château that Christian Dior bought in 1951 has been restored. La Colle Noire was the beloved home of which he wrote, “I think of this house now as my real home, the home to which, God willing, I shall one day retire, the home where perhaps I will one day forget Christian Dior, couturier, and become the neglected private individual again.”
In some ways, his fatidic wish came to pass – towards the end of his life, he spent many months of the year at the château, far away from 30 Avenue Montaigne in Paris, the epicentre of his everexpanding empire – but with a steady retinue of family, friends, chefs, gardeners and such, the monsieur’s retreat could hardly have been considered solitary.
While the château’s secluded situation at the foot of the Prealps, forty kilometres from Cannes, delighted the couturier, it was the Côte d’Azur further south that attracted the rich and famous.
Following his untimely death aged 52, his sister Catherine, for whom his first fragrance, Miss Dior, was named, inherited the house. Since it was in large part from the profits of the parfums that her brother made the purchase, her inheritance of it appears providential.
Alas, like many an heir to such an estate, Christian’s sister was unable to maintain the château. It fell into disrepair, and was sold in quick succession, changing hands a number of times. Most recently, it was put on the market in 2013, and Christian Dior Parfums moved quickly to acquire it.
Unlike his childhood home, Les Rhumbs, in the north of France, the Château de La Colle Noire was not bought with the view to transform it into a museum. It was purchased by the company to serve as a space for entertaining friends of the storied fashion house; it is not open to the public. After the major restoration project, 200 of the house’s closest friends gathered at the property for an unveiling. Ballet dancer Aurélie Dupont smiled and chatted with French actor Pierre Niney. Singer Fai Khadra sat next to model of the moment Bella Hadid. And if you were one of the lucky 200, perhaps you accidentally walked in on Charlize Theron stretched out on a 19th-century sofa, in a gold chartreuse slip dress, being photographed by JEANBAPTISTE Mondino.
Although Christian Dior restored much of the house, including a two-year rejuvenation of a chapel on the land that he donated to the people of the village (the villagers still hold mass in his honour twice a year), the ongoing project would not be completed during his lifetime. André Svetchine, the master of neo-Provençal architecture enlisted by Dior, reinstated the fundamentals of southern French aesthetics, and transformed what amounted to little more than grape cellars and barns into salons and suites.
A 25-minute drive from Grasse, the home of French perfume, where the roses and jasmine of your favourite fragrance are farmed, La Colle Noire served Dior’s horticultural inclinations well. He planted flowers and grape vines and spent his days among them, so when Christian Dior Parfums renovated the château, the gardens were of paramount importance. Landscape architect Philippe Deliau was hired by the house to recreate the Edenic aesthetic. His second project for LVMH, Deliau planted ten thousand May roses, vines, olive trees, and Monsieur Dior’s cherished almond trees.
Beyond almond trees and, of course, couture, Christian Dior adored swans. While they didn’t swim on the pond, they are present throughout the house: above the Carrara marble bath, two gold swan taps; in the grand hall just before the sweeping staircase, a painting of swans by 17th-century artist, Dirk Wintrack; ceramic swans stand on surfaces in the grand salon; a black swan hangs above the settee where Charlize Theron reclined; a gilded bronze swan adorns a gold and black lacquer Empire period jardinière.
One imagines deeply chic artist types scattered about the space of an evening engaged in party game du jour, ‘Spot the Swan’. And while there is some sadness in the story of the Château de La Colle Noire, it is ultimately one of legacy, successes – and dresses. Yes, fashions may come and go. But Christian Dior endures.
The sumptuous 18th-century French-style grand salon is the biggest room in the château. The furnishings evoke several historical periods, creating the lived-in impression Dior desired
ABOVE: Elegant touches abound in the grand salon BELOW: Christian Dior’s Directoire and Empire-style bathroom. He designed the copper water tank set over the swan taps himself OPPOSITE: The 131ft ornamental pond was designed by Dior in 1953. It was a grand reworking of a small pond he designed, aged 15, for his mother’s rose garden at his childhood home, Les Rhumbs
“I think of this house now as my real home, the home to which, God willing, I shall one day retire, the home where
perhaps I will one day forget Christian Dior, couturier”