Dior at Blenheim
Saturday 15 October 2016
Blenheim Palace: The Marlborough RoomVenue
Editor of fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar, novelist and biographer Justine Picardie looks back to the 1950s when Christian Dior brought his glamorous fashion house to Blenheim Palace, and explains how great fashion designers such as Dior and Chanel were inspired by English country houses.
More than 2,000 people including Princess Margaret packed the palace’s state rooms in 1954 after the Duchess of Marlborough invited Christian Dior to display his new winter collection in aid of the British Red Cross. At the time, it was estimated that each model had walked three miles through the palace corridors during the two-hour show. It raised about £8,000 for the Red Cross – almost £200,000 in today’s money. The Oxford Mail of the time reported that the parade offered the first chance to see the fashion house’s new H-line frocks and created interest across the nation.
Dior returned to Blenheim Palace in 1958 to show a collection by Yves Saint Laurent and his team. It returned for a third time this year when it chose Blenheim Palace for a May showing of its spring/summer 2017 cruise collection.
Picardie is editor of Harper’s Bazaar magazine. She is author of five books including a memoir, If the Spirit Moves You, a novel, Daphne, and a biography, Coco Chanel: The Legend and the Life. She also speaks about Dior’s visit to Blenheim at the festival literary dinner on Friday.