dior and iChristian Dior. Chanel. Givenchy. These names are only some of the legendary haute couture houses. Haute couture has a strict definition, but literally means high or elegant sewing. The Paris Chamber of Commerce protects haute couture by law and says that in order to be haute couture, you MUST follow a set of rules, rules that are clearly delineated by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, the association that approves you to be haute couture.

In Dior and I, viewers watch as, in 2012, the newly hired Artistic Director for Dior, Raf Simons, is given a short eight weeks to pull together his very first haute couture line. This documentary goes behind the scenes to show all of the intense labor and work that goes into making haute couture and how the introduction of a new Artistic Director, especially one with more of a ready-to-wear fashion background, added another level of difficulty to make sure the fitting for this new line would go smoothly. Dealing with a new Artistic Director who has his own ideas to bring to the table, juggling completing the line in time with the existing clients and their commissions, and working right up until the fitting brings stress and complications to the many pieces of the Dior fashion house that make sure everything runs smoothly.

Dior and I proves to be a stunningly beautiful documentary that provides a look into the history of Christian Dior through readings of his journals and also snapshots and film of the designer at work. This film is as much a homage to the fashion houses of old and the multi-talented seamstresses who have worked for Dior for years and who strive to bring the founder’s image and standards to life through every inch of fabric they touch on a day-to-day basis as it is also a glimpse into the future for the fashions to come. The combination of the classic and the new is a topic that runs throughout this documentary.

Watch along as all of the style elements from fashion to show design come together to introduce Raf Simons as the new Artistic Director of Christian Dior. (Interesting tidbit I found: Simons just announced he is leaving Dior leading to much speculation about why and who will replace him!)

Come on, admit it – the real reason you watch is the Oscars isn’t to find out who won Best Achievement in Sound Editing; it’s to see the dresses! Looking at gorgeous dresses being worn by beautiful people has been a favorite past time since celebrity began. Now you don’t have to wait for the next Red Carpet event – just check out some of the most amazing dresses ever in 100 Unforgettable Dresses by Hal Rubenstein.

Highlighting more than just Red Carpet dresses, this book has lots of other famous dresses such as the wedding dresses of Princess Diana and Kate Middleton, Marilyn Monroe’s white halter dress from The Seven Year Itch, and  Julia Robert’s red gown from Pretty Woman. And while many/most of these dresses are for the famous and svelte, there are dress styles that made their way into every woman’s closet like Coco Chanel’s “little black dress” and Diane von Furstenberg’s wrap dress.

There are also chapters (with lots of photos) of some our favorite style icons including Audrey Hepburn, Cate Blanchett, Grace Kelley and Jacqueline Kennedy. This is a fun and inspiring look into the world of high fashion, a time-line of modern styles and a homage to fine craftsmanship. And you can see it here, all without the boring Oscar acceptance speeches.

Coco ChanelToday is the birth anniversary of Coco Chanel, one of the most important and influential designers of the 20th century. The very epitome of effortless French style, Chanel revolutionized the fashion world when she introduced men’s clothing (slacks) for women’s wear. Her signature looks – comfortable and simple yet elegant – included the dramatic use of costume jewelry (notably ropes of pearls), sportswear, collarless jackets paired with simple skirts and the “little black dress”. She was the first designer to put her name on a signature perfume; Chanel No. 5 was created in 1921 and continues to be one of the most popular perfumes on the market.

Chanel’s life story is the stuff of Hollywood – born into poverty, orphaned at age 12, raised by nuns, she rose to wealth and status through talent and hard work. Find out more about this fascinating, controversial (both the Nazi’s and the Allies accused her of being a spy during World War II) woman through these great books:

Chanel: Her Style and Her Life by Janet Wallach

Chanel : the Couturiere at Work by Amy DeLaHaye

Chanel : a Woman of Her Own by Axel Madsen

Coco Chanel : her Life, her Secrets by Marcel Haedrich


Reminder to our Readers! Don’t forget to leave a comment on last Friday’s blog post about your favorite QC area Staycation destination! Someone’s going to win two tickets to the Putnum Museum and IMAX movie Kilimanjaro: To the Roof of Africa – might as well be you!