Miss Dior : a story of courage and couture
by Justine Picardie
Miss Dior is a story of freedom and fascism, beauty and betrayal, roses and repression, and how the polished surface of fashion conceals hidden depths. It paints a portrait of the enigmatic woman behind the designer Christian Dior: his beloved younger sister Catherine, who inspired his most famous perfume and shaped his vision of femininity. Justine Picardie's journey takes her to Occupied Paris, where Christian honed his couture skills while Catherine dedicated herself to the French Resistance, until she was captured by the Gestapo and deported to the German concentration camp of Ravensbrück. With access to the Dior family homes and archives, Picardie's research into Catherine's courageous life shines a new light on Christian Dior's legendary work, and reveals how his enchanting 'New Look' emerged out of the shadows of his sister's suffering. Tracing the wartime paths of the Dior siblings leads Picardie deep into other hidden histories, and different forms of resistance and sisterhood. She explores what it means to believe in beauty and hope, despite our knowledge of darkness and despair, and discovers the timeless solace of the natural world in the aftermath of devastation and destruction.
From Gordy: Inventive and captivating, and shaped by Picardie’s own journey, Miss Dior examines the legacy of Christian Dior, the secrets of postwar France, and the unbreakable bond between two remarkable siblings.
Most important, it shines overdue recognition on a previously overlooked life, one that epitomized courage and also embodied the astonishing capacity of the human spirit to remain undimmed, even in the darkest circumstances.
One woman informed Dior’s vision more than any other: his sister, Catherine, a Resistance fighter, concentration camp survivor, and cultivator of rose gardens who inspired Dior’s most beloved fragrance, Miss Dior. Yet the story of Catherine’s remarkable life—so different from her famous brother’s—has never been told, until now.
Drawing on the Dior archives and extensive research, Justine Picardie’s Miss Dior is the long-overdue restoration of Catherine Dior’s life. The siblings’ stories are profoundly intertwined: in Occupied France, as Christian honed his couture skills, Catherine dedicated herself to the Resistance, ultimately being captured by the Gestapo and sent to Ravensbruck, the only Nazi camp solely for women. Seeking to trace Catherine’s story as well as her influence on her brother, Picardie travelled to the significant places of Catherine’s life.
A time in history that still continues to astound and confound me and how the role of beauty has helped towards healing after times of unimaginable but all too real suffering. Highly recommended.
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