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"Mr Dior? He was like family," 1950s model recalls

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on February 1, 2019 - Duration: 02:15s

"Mr Dior? He was like family," 1950s model recalls

Former fashion models reflect on the iconic designer Christian Dior, decades after his golden era.

A major exhibition has opened at London's V and A museum exploring his legacy.

Anna Bevan reports.

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"Mr Dior? He was like family," 1950s model recalls

As a major exhibition, exploring the work and legacy of Christian Dior, opens at the V and A museum in London, the women who modeled his gowns in the 40s and 50s have been reflecting on what it was like to work with the legendary fashion designer.

(SOUNDBITE) (French) FORMER DIOR MODEL, ODILE KERN, SAYING: "Mr. Dior was not a normal boss.

It was like a family and he was like a father to us and we had affection for Mr. Dior, which does not happen very often when you have a director, a boss." Odile's first meeting with Dior changed her life.

(SOUNDBITE) (French) FORMER DIOR MODEL, ODILE KERN, SAYING: "So, I worked, I was in the boutique and I took a small elevator to go to the first floor and this is where we first met, in a small elevator.

He asked me, 'Miss, who are you?'

I said, 'Sir, my name is Odile and I work for you.'

'Oh, yes, where?'

So I told him for the boutique.

He said, 'No, now you work for me'." 'Christian Dior' was founded in 1946, at the core of a post-war revolution in womenswear.

Private clients used to visit the studio in Paris to view and order bespoke creations.

(SOUNDBITE) (French) FORMER DIOR MODEL, ODILE KERN, SAYING: "We worked for Maison Dior, nobody else, we worked two hours a day to present the collection every day... the rest of the time we had stand-ins who came to present the dresses to the clients." Former Dior model Svetlana Lloyd joined the fashion house in 1956.

She walked into the store on a trip from London and began modeling the next day.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER DIOR MODEL, SVETLANA LLOYD, SAYING: "I didn't have time to do more than ask for a job, and they immediately sent me upstairs, put me in an outfit and went up further to the very large workroom, studio of Monsieur Dior where he was in his sort of white doctor's coat that everyone wore inside and Raymonde Zehnacker (Dior collaborator).

And I walked towards him and then I walked back to the door and he just said, 'ca va'." Odile and Svetlana's era has been described as the "most luxurious and radiant" decade in women's fashion.

Some of the dresses they used to model are being featured in the V&A exhibition, which presents over 200 rare haute couture garments alongside accessories, original make-up and some of Christian Dior's personal possessions.

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