Post by Anne-Marie
In my tiny collection of fashion and perfume books, my greatest treasure is a tattered copy of Christian Dior’s Little Dictionary of Fashion: a guide to dress sense for every woman, published by Cassell & Co in 1954. A friend gave it to me and it seems to be a first edition, which is rather special. It’s written in English. If there was an earlier French edition I’m not aware of it.
The book is arranged alphabetically: A for Accessories … Afternoon Frock … Armholes … – through to Z for … Zest (‘There is no beauty which is attractive without Zest’).
Christian Dior: Little Dictionary of Fashion
Of course on first opening the book I skipped straight to P for Perfume. Here’s the entry in full.
“Since the beginning of civilisation perfume has always been used and has been considered an essential part of woman’s attraction.
“When I was young, women used much more perfume than they do now and I think that was wonderful and I regret that more women don’t use it lavishly now.
“Perfume, like your clothes, can so much express your personality; and you can change your perfume with your mood.
“I think it as important for a woman to have beautiful perfume as it is for her to have beautiful clothes. And do not think that you need have perfume only on yourself; your whole house can smell of it, and especially your own room.”
The entry is accompanied by a photograph of – of course! – Miss Dior in the amphora bottle in which it had been presented on its release in 1947.
It’s intriguing that Dior thought that women of that time wore less perfume than when he was young (Dior was born in 1905). Was that true, I wonder? Perhaps the women in Dior’s (rather privileged) early life happened to be great lovers of perfume? Or perhaps Dior the salesman was he just being sly, encouraging women to buy more perfume? Preferably his own, of course
The book is sheer delight. Dated, of course, in some of its advice. “In town you cannot be dressed without gloves any more than you can be dressed without a hat.” But whimsical too. “I never get tired of dots.” And sensible. “Too high heels are vulgar and hideous.” I could not agree more.
My favourite is the entry for Elegance: “Elegance must be the right combination of distinction, naturalness, care and simplicity. Outside this, believe me, there is no elegance. Only pretension.” I do believe you M. Dior, indeed I do.
This charming book has been republished under a slightly rearranged title, and is widely available online.
By the way, want some Miss Dior bottle porn? Go here.
Are you a lover of Dior style, in dress and perfume? Do comment!
Until next time everyone, stay elegant!