“If the flame of French creativity and savoir-faire that he patiently and continuously nurtured burns brightly around the world today, it’s largely thanks to him.”
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That’s how Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, paid tribute to Marc Bohan, the longest serving designer at the house Christian Dior established in 1947 and made a global beacon of elegance and glamor.
The luxury titan, who has owned the Dior maison since 1984, expressed “sadness and emotion” upon learning of Bohan’s passing at age 97.
“For nearly 30 years, he watched with infinite respect over the immense creative legacy left by Christian Dior, which he was able to interpret in both his haute couture and ready-to-wear lines,” Arnault said. “The ateliers of the maison Dior owe him a huge debt of gratitude for having perceived, in times when it was no longer obvious, the inexhaustible wealth of their artisanal heritage and exceptional techniques.”
Delphine Arnault, chairman and CEO of Christian Dior Couture, called Bohan “a man of immense talent who profoundly marked both our history and that of fashion.”
She added that he was “a unique creator dear to the heart of our house” who infused Dior elegance “with his free spirit.”
Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dior’s current artistic director of women’s collections, and Kim Jones, artistic director of men’s collection, have both referenced Bohan’s rich design canon.
“My adolescence and youth were accompanied by the creations of Marc Bohan for Dior,” Chiuri said. “He was a great innovator who succeeded in infusing a charismatic house such as Dior with all the vitality of the ’60s, fully reflecting the spirit of the times.”
She credited him with creating, via shapes, colors and attitude, “a new way of experiencing fashion and interpreting the body through clothes.”
“When I arrived at Dior, I studied his work a lot and he inspired many collections, including one with feminist artist Niki de Saint Phalle, who was one of his great friends,” she added.
“Marc Bohan’s work at Dior is a huge source of surprise and inspiration for what we do,” Jones agreed. “There is always something new to discover whilst researching his work.”
Victoire de Castellane, artistic director of Dior Joaillerie since 1998, said when she was 16, she regularly borrowed Dior creations by Bohan. “They were my first ballgowns, my first couture memories,” she said. “His contemporary vision has changed the way we wear clothes, the way we look at fashion and style.”
Bruno Pavlovsky, president of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, saluted “a couturier who, for nearly three decades, marked French fashion by his precision and his refinement.”
When he was still a child, Christian Lacroix recalled discovering some “very neat suits” with “nice rounded shoulders” by Bohan featured in a special couture issue of French Elle.
“Later, I was very inspired by a famous dress of his: a short, A-shaped one in stiff white silk with a green bow belt and psychedelic embroideries at the bottom,” Lacroix told WWD. Bohan’s floral print chiffon dresses, gray suits with “mannish lapels” and New Look-inspired shapes also caught his attention.
“Even if they were not so flamboyant, nor so innovative, his collections were very charming, obviously very wearable and the most salable in Paris,” Lacroix said, suggesting designers today should reflect on his recipe for “lasting in fashion” — turning out “subdued, not-so-surprising clothes with just a witty detail and a good balance between classic, easy styles and current trends.”
Lacroix noted that early in the early 1980s when he was freelancing, Bohan commissioned him to sketch some high shoes with kitten heels and a “turn of the century” esprit.
The last time Lacroix saw Bohan was in 1996 at the Met Gala, which had a Dior exhibit that year and Diana, Princess of Wales attended wearing navy lingerie-style Dior dress by John Galliano.
Lacroix toured the show with Bohan, and recalled his acrimony when Bohan discovered that the gloves paired with one of his Dior outfits in the exhibition were the wrong length, color and style.
Valentino Garavani called Bohan “a good friend and a great designer…his aesthetic was perfect for Dior! I remember the vacations with him and Philippe [Guibourgé] in Saint-Tropez as moments of great fun.”
Haute couture antiquarian Didier Ludot, who met Bohan while putting on a 2005 exhibition celebrating the centenary of Christian Dior’s birth, recalled “a gentleman” and “a true man of couture,” but most of all, “someone who lived with his time and adapted to the evolutions of society through his work.”
Dior’s beauty executives also lamented Bohan’s passing.
Peter Philips, creative and image director of Parfums Christian Dior, said the Frenchman “guided the house of Dior with creativity and elegance through a constantly evolving world of fashion. His discreet nature directed the spotlight to the women he lovingly and respectfully dressed.
“His creations reflected not only the era he lived in, but over the years they proved also to be timeless,” he added. “We lost a true master and we’re lucky he left us such a rich inheritance.”
“We must remember how much Dior fragrances owe to his spirit of avant-garde and sophistication, of absolute elegance and Parisian chic recognizable at the very first glance,” noted Francis Kurkdjian, Dior’s perfume creation director. “It was during this period that such iconic and audacious olfactory signatures as Eau Sauvage and Diorella were launched.”
Launch Gallery: A Look Back at Marc Bohan
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