I'm still a bit shocked that I haven't posted a single thing about Dior makeup in nearly 6 years! I guess Instagram has taken over the shorter posts I'd normally share here. But there have been some beautiful objects that serve as excellent homages to pieces of Dior's history and as today is the designer's birthday*, I thought it would be a good time to catch up. These are by no means all of the Museum-worthy Dior releases since 2016; I'm just focusing on the ones that have a more inspired relationship to the fashion.
Trafalgar blush and lipstick were released in fall 2019 as tributes to the designer's penchant for red as well as a fun little trick he used while showing his collections.
As the story goes, Dior would often send a surprise down the runway - usually in the form of a striking red dress - halfway through the show to keep viewers on their toes, dubbing this tactic a "coup de Trafalgar". Talk about audience engagement! I have no idea whether this "afternoon dress" from the winter 1955 collection was used as a coup de Trafalgar, but it is beautiful.
(image from vam.ac.uk)
The brand named September 9, 2019 "#999 Day" to celebrate their iconic #999 shade in its cosmetics and announced the new Trafalgar collection then. According to the online Fashion Magazine, Creative Director of Dior Makeup Peter Philips designed the Trafalgar lineup to make "revolutionary variations on Dior’s iconic red," while the embossed motif on the blush and lipsticks "pays homage to Maria Grazia’s Chiuri’s work at the house, as well as the power of a true red."
The idea of a capsule makeup collection dedicated to the coup de Trafalgar must have been in the works for some time, at least since 2016, when Philips noted he was inspired by Dior's little runway maneuver. From the New York Times T Magazine backstage beauty report of the spring 2016 Dior couture show: "'Christian Dior had this idea: Halfway through the show when people were getting bored, he’d do a surprise — and quite often it was a red dress that suddenly came out of nowhere,' Philips said, referring to what has come to be known as the 'coup de Trafalgar.' He lined a handful of models’ lips with a Dior lip pencil in Rouge Royale before painting them with Diorific lipstick in Fabuleuse."
(images from vogue.com)
Next up is the Blooming Garden pressed powder. To celebrate the launch of Dior's Toile de Jouy fragrances, in spring 2021 the cosmetics division released a face powder embossed with the toile's floral pattern. I tried so hard to identify the part of the pattern that's on the powder, but couldn't find an exact match.
Before we get to Dior's use of toile de Jouy, a little background on toile de Jouy's origins is in order. My apologies for the laziness, but Pattern Observer has an excellent condensed history of toile de Jouy so I am copying and pasting it here. "Toile, or more properly, Toile de Jouy (meaning, “cloth from Jouy”) is a type of print that is characterised by complex vignettes scattered over the surface of the cloth. Originally, they were scenes carved on woodblocks or engraved on copper, printed in only one colour (often red, black, or blue) onto a white or cream background. To understand the print, it’s also useful to look at the history of the basecloth. Cotton was first imported in France in the 16th century, and quickly became the fabric of choice because it was cheap and easy to look after. Its ever-growing success was such that it began to threaten the local textile industries of wool and silk, and so eventually cotton was banned in 1686, with the ban stayed in force for around 70 years. Christophe-Phillipe Oberkampf was born during this time and had been working in the family textile business for several years. In 1759 when he heard the ban on imported cotton was going to be lifted, he took the only piece of furniture that he owned – a printing press – and set up business in Jouy-en-Josas outside Paris. There, influenced by Rococo art and its romantic zeitgeist, he joined with engraver and designer Jean Baptiste Huet to design idyllic pastoral scenes for their fabrics. These became immensely popular. The business grew and they began commissioning other designers, and by the time Oberkampf died in 1815, the company had a catalogue of over 30,000 patterns. Toile prints were the perfect medium for spreading not only populist themes, but political messages and recording historic events too; one by Huet proudly showed off France’s scientific advancement with scenes from the first hot-air balloon flight in 1784, and other toiles featured images of Colonial expansion with sailing ships landing on tropical islands and negotiating with tribal leaders. Other printing companies in France, England and America soon followed suit as the popularity of the toile spread."
(image from patternobserver.com)
Dior first used toile de Jouy for the medallion chairs and other surfaces in his boutique. Wallpaper explains that the designer's artist friend Christian Bérard - whose makeup ad illustrations I hope to cover later this year - recommended that Dior decorate his boutique with toile de Jouy. "Bérard understood that the pattern, typically associated with the rococo extravagance of the 18th century, could in the contemporary context of a Parisian boutique be used to create a modern, sumptuous aesthetic that was well-suited to the newly opened couturier. As Christian Dior later wrote of Bérard’s vision, 'it was he who advised us to hang the boutique with toile de Jouy and to scatter hat boxes bearing the name of the house everywhere, on top of wardrobes and in every corner. Beneath this semblance of disorder, he had created life.'"
According to Marie Clare France, Bérard designed a pattern based on some of Huet's sepia drawings and Fragonard's The Swing. Too bad I can't seem to locate a close-up photo of the toile de Jouy print used in the Dior boutique - I would love to see how it references the painting. (Side note: the article also mentions there is an entire toile de Jouy museum!) Dior began incorporating toile de Jouy in his fashion as early as 1956, when Roger Vivier created a pair of pumps in collaboration with the designer.
(image from vam.ac.uk)
(image from pinterest)
Apparently many Dior designers followed suit over the years. Alas, I don't have any Dior fashion books on hand - I only have the Art of Color book, which I used as a background for some of the photos here (see if you can spot which ones!) - so I had to make due with what was available online. The only other examples of toile de Jouy in Dior that I could find were these pieces from John Galliano's collections, and I don't even know what years they are. Browsing the runway shows at Vogue, I saw there were a few more by Galliano as well as Raf Simons that may have been toile de Jouy, but as I'm not a fashion historian or expert I couldn't tell for sure. The Marie Claire article notes that this piece from the fall 2010 lineup is toile, but again, my fashion eye is not trained enough to know with certainty.
(image from black-is-no-colour.tumblr.com)
Chiuri revived the pattern several times over the past few years, most notably for the spring 2019 collection. "The idea for the toile de Jouy came to me at the studio one day when we were all chatting together. The French on the squad weren’t sure what to think. But I, being Italian, saw this painting as something exotic. The main reservation was that we were touching on something so coded, so bourgeois, that it was going to prevent modernity," she says. Interestingly, it may also be another one of Chiuri's sneaky ways of calling attention to women's rights via fashion: as one blogger points out, "female workers comprised one-third to one-half the [toile de Jouy] workforce at various times. Female printers earned half the pay of male printers...Famously known for her “WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS” t-shirt, maybe [Chiuri] also knew a little history about toile."
(images from vogue.com)
Dior had also reintroduced the print for the holiday 2018 season. The pop-up stores were decorated entirely in toile de Jouy and sold a wide variety of accessories and homeware.
(image from whitewall.art)
(images from tomandlorenzo.com)
Getting back to the pressed powder, I think it's Museum-worthy, but might have been more interesting and versatile had Dior adhered to a toile color scheme, i.e. a red, blue or black pattern against a cream background. Perhaps the raised flowers could have been red or dark pink shimmer and set on top of a translucent powder, or they could have been rendered in black and/or blue and the background a shimmery ivory shade to make an eye palette. Those may have worked for more skintones than the the very pale pink powder. Although it was billed as an all-over "brightening and correcting" product and an Asia-exclusive (I think), more colors wouldn't have hurt. Also, purely from an aesthetic standpoint, in this case a dual color scheme would be far more visually appealing than using all one shade. I hate to say it, but to my eye the floral pattern bears a vague resemblance to broccoli or cauliflower, or something from a petri dish. There's a sense of growth but not a blooming garden - more like multiplying microbes.
Anyway, Dior regained its limited edition makeup footing (sort of) later in 2021 with the Millefiori blush.
As with the Toile de Jouy powder, the Millefiori blush was launched to celebrate the release of a new (old) fragrance in the fall of 2021. I'm sure a perfume historian could say exactly how many times the Miss Dior fragrance has been reformulated since its debut in 1947, but the latest iteration is called Millefiori. True to its name, the fragrance is described as an "olfactory 'millefiori', imagined like a bouquet of a thousand shimmering and colorful flowers." Chiuri designed a lovely dress for brand ambassador Natalie Portman to wear in the commercial.
(images from dior.com)
I find it to be a gorgeous and modern take on the original Miss Dior dress, which was created for the spring 1949 collection and boasted a sumptuous embroidered mille fleurs design.
(image from partridgeevents.co.uk)
(image from harpersbazaar.com)
There wasn't quite as much product with the Millefiori theme as the Toile de Jouy. There were several scarves but no clothing, bags, housewares, etc. However, the Dior pop-up stores all got the thousand flowers treatment...literally!
(images from crfashionbook.com)
The reason I'm mentioning the pop-up stores again is that I believe the imprint on the blush is actually from the pop-up store and not any of the Millefiori patterns on the scarves or dress. I pored over all of them and like the Toile de Jouy, none were an exact match. Then I spotted photos of celebrities in front of the pop-up and thought the wall decoration looked very familiar.
The pattern on the store, in turn, appears to be a mishmash of the flowers from the scarves.
I have no idea why Dior would "remix" their Millefiori patterns for decorating their pop-ups and then put it on the blush. Technology-wise it probably would have been just as easy to use a section from the scarf print or even one of the dress's flowers. Also, I'm baffled by the use of the Italian "millefiori"...why not call the fragrance the original French "mille fleurs"? I get that Chiuri is Italian, but the fragrance was not her creation, and her cruise 2021 collection centered on the mille fleurs motif and was not referred to in the Italian phrase (even though the show took place in Italy). Am I missing something?
Fortunately, the holiday 2021 collection was a bit more straightforward. Dior released a glamourous minaudiere and other items embossed with an image of Dior's first boutique located at 30 Avenue Montaigne. I wonder if the company was looking at Chanel's recent Poudre Cambon or if they remembered the Maison Lancome palette from 10 years ago. Depicting a storefront on makeup is not a new or even all that innovative idea, but I think Dior executed it nicely. I also thought it was a touch more inspired than their 2020 New Look '47 capsule makeup collection (which, mind you, I purchased immediately but still think it was a bit bland, especially compared to the Tailleur Bar palettes.)
Sadly, part of the embossing on the lipstick got mashed. It wasn't my fault (for once) - I think with embossing that intricate some of it is bound to wear off when swiveling up the bullet.
In any case, the imprint really does resemble the atelier's facade.
(image from vogue.com)
In my opinion, I believe it was inspired not just by old photos of the boutique, but also a detailed illustration by artist Xavier Casalta. Casalta was commissioned by Dior for the original run of the Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition held from July 2017 through January 2018 at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. (The show is wrapping up soon at the Brooklyn Museum; I am heartbroken that COVID is still proving too risky for me to get on public transport to see it.)
(image from casaltaxavier.com)
This piece took even longer than the Millefiori dress, clocking in at over 600 hours as compared to a mere 500 for the dress. I really wish I could have seen it in person. Anyway, I love the minaudiere's design and I believe the dimensions - at least for the compact portion - are comparable to vintage pieces. I won't know for sure until the vintage minaudiere I purchased from eBay arrives, but I will compare the sizes of the two as soon as it gets here and update this post. So stay tuned for that as well as a new post on Dior's use of houndstooth, which covered the spring 2022 makeup collection. :)
What was your favorite here? Are you inspired to learn more about Dior fashion? Truth be told, I liked all of these, but I'll be honest: none are really on the same level as, say, the Lady Dior palette. Speaking of which, they're still collaborating with artist for those bags, so I wish Dior would borrow their designs for makeup from time to time as they did previously.
*Backdated as usual since everything takes me longer than expected, plus a nasty bout of food poisoning struck me down so I was even tardier finishing up this post. Sigh.