Friday, April 24, 2009

Book Review: The Little Dictionary of Fashion by Christian Dior

Title: The Little Dictionary of Fashion, A guide to dress sense for every woman
Author: Christian Dior
Category: Non-ficiton, fashion
Publisher: Abrams, New York, 2007 (First published in 1954 by Cassell & Co)
Price: US$19.95, Canada $21.95 (hardcover)
Number of Pages: 126

What it is about:
Christian Dior was not only a leading couturier, he was also a writer. He wrote several books, including this one. In his introduction, he says "Much has been written about Fashion, in all its aspects, but I do not think any couturier has ever before attempted to compile a dictionary on the subject".

In The Little Dictionary of Fashion, Dior compiles an alphabetical guide/dictionary to dressing with style and elegance. Beginning with "Accent" (that little personal touch which makes a dress your own dress) and ending with "Zest" (that is the secret of beauty and fashion, too), the book includes tips on style.

Dior wrote the book so that it would be "possible for a woman to be elegant without spending very much money on her clothes, if she follows the basic rules of Fashion and is careful to choose the clothes that suit her personality. Simplicity, good taste, and grooming are the three fundamentals of good dressing and these do not cost money."

Why I Chose this book:
After hearing Dr. Alexandra Palmer (Senior Curator of Fashion and Textiles at the Royal Ontario Museum) talk about her upcoming book on Dior, I decided to read everything I could about this leading couturier.

My Favourite Passage:
"Elegance: This is a word that would need a book to give it is right definition! I will only say now that elegance must be the right combination of distinction, naturalness, care, and simplicity. Outside this, believe me, there is no elegance. Only pretension.
Elegance is not dependent on money. Of the four things I have mentioned above, the most important of all is care. Care in choosing your clothes. Care in wearing them. Care in keeping them." (page 37)

This is an amusing book for a serious fashion history buff like me. Although I was charmed, I would guess that most people would find this book out of date and somewhat dull.