Dior Impressions

Impressionism was an art movement in the nineteenth century. By painting en plain air, gave the artists the freedom to paint exactly from the scene, providing the idea that the world around them is rapidly changing, consequently contributing to the impasto painting technique. Many artists were inspired by impressionism, thus giving further influence to other designers.

Impressionism emphasises on an accurate depiction of light, nature and its changing qualities, accordingly giving Christian Dior inspiration for many of his designs, especially his Haute Couture spring/summer 1953 collection, named ‘Ligne Tulipe’.
The bunches of wildflowers Christian Dior evoked in his S/S 1953 collection -(figure 1) inspired Raf Simons, who reinterpreted them in his first two haute couture collections (A/W 12 and S/S 13) – ( figure 2). Both collections relate back to Manet’s painting ‘Poppies’, 1873 – (figure 3).


Figure 1 (right). Figure 2 (left).


Figure 3. Manet’s painting ‘Poppies’, 1873.

“ After woman, flowers are the most lovely thing God has given the world” Christian Dior. 1954.

Christian Dior, attempts to incorporate women and flowers in the same sphere of existence. Due to doing this, beauty is established through the picturesque qualities of nature reflecting on the woman herself. The colours, prints and embroideries of the 1953 collection, evoke the impressionist landscapes and fields of flowers dear to Renoir and Van Gogh.


Figure 4. Christian Dior, 1953


Figure 5. Black tulip dress. Christian Dior. 1953

The complimentary neck line within the collection “Ligne Tulipe”, frames the neck and shoulders leaving the face as the focal part of the body, suggesting the face is, the flower and therefore the beauty within this impressionist inspired line. The Dior silhouette, takes form of the tulip, then curves down into a tiny waist line and stem-straight skirt – (figure 4).

Symbolic to the tulip, the flower is a representation of elegance and grace, much like the depiction of women in which Christian Dior wanted to convey. Christian Dior then began to reverse the flower, where the design would flower out at the feet making an inverted tulip form – (figure 5 ).

This impressionist inspired design also influenced other collections. Dior’s A/W 11 collection by John Galliano (figure 6) is a clear example. The materials that the garments are made from allow the movement and fluidity that is required from the impressionism movement, as if the collection has been designed to be ‘en plain aire’.


Figure 6. Dior’s A/W 11 collection by John Galliano

1953 satin and silk dress

Figure 7. Christian Dior. Autumn/Winter’54

This gold silk garment (Dior A/W 54) exploits the material as it reflects the surroundings, giving the dress a sense of ever changing movement, resulting in the impressionist ideas coming to life. The collar of this dress is also symbolic of the tulip flower as it frames the face to contain the beauty within – (figure 7)

Christian Dior’s classic silhouette, where the waist is narrow and the bust and hips are wide and full, is still present within modern fashion – (figure 8 ). This strapless white garment with a gauzy white skirt is strongly influenced by the impressionist painting by Degas’ ‘The Ballet Class” painted in 1871 – (figure 9)


Figure 9. Degas, “The Ballet Class” 1971

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Figure 8. Sarah Jessica Parker wearing Dior in 2012.

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Dior constantly references the art movement, impressionism within his brand. Through the use go his A/W’13 campaign gives a strong link to “lunch on the grass” by Edouard Manet (1863).


Christian Dior (left) poses his garden. Claude Monet (right) stands beside his pond of water lilies. These photographs reveal the similarities in mind and beauty within both of their designs.

Christian Dior is such an influential designer that due to his intense relationship with impressionism, many other designers create designs based around this art movement. The colour white appears frequently in this particular art movement, as it references light and movement. White is evident in multiple collections within the Spring/Summer’15 fashion weeks, concluding that an ‘all  white’ trend has stemmed of impressionism.

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