Hero­ines of a new world

In this third episode of our se­ries ded­i­cated to the 70th an­niver­sary of the Dior house, we ex­plore the re­la­tion­ship that the cre­ator had with the mod­els of his pre­sen­ta­tions.

L’Officiel Middle East (English) - - Contents - By Em­manuelle Bosc

They were called Alla, Lucky, Pra­line, Ta­nia, Re­nee and were, with some oth­ers, the ones that Chris­tian Dior called fairies: his fetish mod­els and eter­nal muses. The first, Alla Ilchun, high cheek­bones and a rare smile, cat’s eyes high­lighted by a touch of ar­row-like eye­liner, owed her atyp­i­cal, half-slavic, half-asian traits to a Rus­sian mother and a Kazakh fa­ther. . It was for his tal­ent to glam­or­ize the looks that the de­signer, while she was stand­ing for a re­place­ment, had her re­tained. “Hier­atic, al­ways a lit­tle mys­te­ri­ous, a model must in­trigue. The the­atri­cal ex­pres­sion ‘to have pres­ence’, of­ten overused, takes on its full mean­ing here. It was be­cause of this pres­ence that I hired Alla, “he re­called in his mem­oirs. Mys­te­ri­ous, also known to all-paris for her in­sep­a­ra­ble dog, she worked for more than two decades for the house, also fas­ci­nat­ing the suc­ces­sors of Chris­tian Dior by her way of strolling, “seem­ingly im­pas­sive and dis­tant”.

Ca­su­ally Cheer­ful

The sec­ond, Lucky, was no less im­pres­sive. With her Modigliani-like fig­ure and her an­gu­lar face, this Bre­ton woman with al­mond-shaped eyes ra­di­ates an air of a dis­tant princess. And was one of the most sought-af­ter mod­els of the 1950s. “Lucky is tai­lor­ing put on show: from a dress she can do at will a com­edy or a drama. (...) She does not wear a dress, she plays it”, mused the mas­ter.

In con­trast to th­ese ar­ro­gant beau­ties, Pra­line and Ta­nia, while cheer­ful off­hand, rep­re­sented, with their re­bel­lious guer­rilla pro­file, “the type of a man­nequin turn­ing into a woman and not the woman turn­ing into a model”. When Chris­tian Dior meets her, in the early 1940s, Pra­line is al­ready a star at the cou­turier Pierre Le­long. Her aura, as crunchy and sweet as her nick­name, car­ries ev­ery­thing in its path: an at­ti­tude that ca­su­ally fits per­fectly with the New Look spirit, which she will be one of the stars.

But it is Ta­nia who, amongst the drama queens of the house, is the most dev­as­tat­ing. And that is since the very first run­way of Chris­tian Dior. Like her men­tor, “un­known on Fe­bru­ary 12, 1947, fa­mous on the 13th” (to use the words of Françoise Giroud), this im­petu­ous Rus­sian sees, from one day to the next, all the pro­jec­tors fo­cused on her face and her sil­hou­ette: it is she who wears the fa­mous tai­lor “Bar” that be­comes star of this in­au­gu­ral show. A suc­cess sup­ported by her in­cen­di­ary way of twirling her corolla skirt. The young Slavic was fa­mous for her pas­sion­ate char­ac­ter: her hot tem­per made her shake the win­dows when the out­fits she wore did not arouse the ap­plause of the pub­lic. “Ta­nia, it is Eve with all her tricks, her lies and her drama, with, also, her grace, her kind­ness and her pos­si­ble de­vo­tion. If there are sa­cred mon­sters in fash­ion as in the­ater, she would cer­tainly be one of them,” he said.

Re­mov­ing the dress

The his­tor­i­cal face of the Dior house, Ta­nia Jan­vier-Kous­net­zoff also fore­shad­ows the im­por­tant pres­ence of Slavic beau­ties in the cast­ings of 30 Av­enue Mon­taigne, then led by the head of the cabin, the Baroness of Tur­ck­heim (called “Tutu” by the mod­els), in con­tact with many fam­i­lies

Right page, Chris­tian Dior with Renée in 1957.

From top to bot­tom, Ta­nia, Alla and Lucky in the years 1940-50, in Paris.

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