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Blog 88 - Dior & Paper Dolls

This is my first Christian Dior scarf to be shown and is a well loved one, as it is not as pristine as my other vintage ones, with the odd perfume and wine stain. I have had it for many decades but not as long as my younger sister has carefully maintained her hand made paper dolls.

Where do I start?  Shall I tell you about the dolls or where Christian Dior fits in the story? I had never heard of Dior when I was twelve years old living in a remote cottage in the Trossachs, a weekday boarder at school in Callander, with my little sister at the village school in Aberfoyle. We still had postwar shortages, rationing and, to a certain extent like today, had to rely on home entertainment. I made two little paper dolls for my eight year old sister, rather like cartoon figures with outfits to dress them. My sister tells me they were named Yvonne and Marie.

Later I designed two adult dolls with outfits, patiently painted in watercolour, then cut out with nail scissors. They had hourglass figures. I rather like the turquoise evening dress and find it surprising a gawky twelve year old designed such a dress! We still had clothes rationing and it was just before the New Look would come from Paris. I had dreams of being a dress designer. The precocious innocence of youth!

I had less than two years of learning French but penned a letter to Robert Piguet In schoolgirl French. Unless you are studying history of fashion design, you may not have heard of him. This young girl was reading one of her mother’s magazines in search of photos of film stars which she would cut out and paste in a scrapbook and came across an article on Robert Piguet, a Parisian couturier. I innocently wrote my letter asking how I could become a dress designer. I never got a reply!

Christian Dior must have contacted Piguet long before my childish request, joined his fashion house, learned the trade and designed three collections for Piguet up to 1938.

So there you have the connection between my sister’s paper dolls and my scarf.

Now, something of Christian Dior’s journey......born to a rich family in Normandy, he refused to follow his family’s desire that he become a diplomat. He showed early enterprise by selling his sketches outside his house for 10 cents each ......dear sister, don’t sell the dolls for 10p each, having preserved them in tissue paper in an old shoe box for over seventy years! Back to Dior, his parents set him up with a small art gallery where he sold early work by Picasso and the like. This closed following financial difficulties, then he joined Piguet, learned his trade along with others who would become big names like Pierre Balmain, Givenchy and Mark Bohan, all working with Piguet. After designing three collections for Robert Piguet, he left to do National Service and set up his own house in 1946. He named his first collection Corolle from the Latin name of Corolla for a circlet of petals and said .....I have designed flower women. Today my long black and white scarf has delicate flowers worked into the design. He would launch a perfume the following year to honour his sister Catherine, a Resistance fighter, who spent a long time in a concentration camp. It is Miss Dior, still loved today. I have written my last two blogs about maternal and paternal love.  This one is for my sister. I love her dearly too.

Maybe I should have paid more attention in French class and my letter would have got past the office junior in that Parisian couture house! I didn’t have much talent so just as well I got that out of the way early in life.

I still say....follow your dreams.

Busy Bee, Scarf Face!

Blog 88.

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