Story by Katie Knowles and Megan Osborne
In 1946, French couturier Christian Dior (1905-1957) founded his legendary design house; he would grow to become one of the most influential fashion designers of the twentieth century.
His New Look, which debuted in 1947, quickly seduced the war-weary world. The soft feminine silhouettes and yards of luxurious fabric were a marked change from the rationing that had restricted fashion during WWII (1939-45). Women like Princess Margaret, Eva Peron, and Marlene Dietrich embraced Dior’s aesthetic, and by doing so solidified the designer’s place among the fashion elite.
The House of Dior strove to capitalize on the designer’s early success and very quickly set up Dior Ltd. to expand the business through a lucrative licensing program. By 1950, the now very recognizable name Christian Dior appeared on a variety of luxury goods sold at varying price points around the world. Men’s neckties were the first item to be licensed under the name Christian Dior, closely followed by hosiery, hats, handbags, gloves, lingerie, and scarves.
The Avenir Museum recently acquired a pair of Christian Dior nylon stockings with what we had initially believed to be the original packaging. Upon closer inspection, we noticed the silver and black box is labeled for four pairs of Ultra Dior Demi-Toe stockings size 11M in the color “Creme Crepe.” The box actually contained a single pair of Christian Dior navy thigh high stockings size 10 ½ M. The stockings are in perfect condition and do not appear to have ever been worn.
Made in the U.S.A.
We are not sure how, when, or why the box was separated from its original contents. What we do know is that the stockings and the box were both made in the United States under the licensed Christian Dior name. The packaging has a small disclaimer that reads “Made of Christian Dior, Reading, PA. 19603, U.S.A.” and the stockings feature the Christian Dior label along with material and size information and “made in the U.S.A.” stamped on the upper thigh.
Regardless of the curious mismatching of the packaging and its contents, the stockings were clearly produced under the Dior license for sale in the American market. At a cost of $2.00 for a box of four pairs of stockings, they afforded an opportunity for any woman to experience a little piece of Dior every day.
The Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising is part of the Department of Design and Merchandising in CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.