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Dior Heritage: the Secret Place Where Maria Grazia Chiuri Draws Inspiration

At the heart of the Avenue Montaigne, a few steps from the first Dior shop and workshops of the house hides a secret place where all of the artistic directors of the house from John Galliano to Raf Simons to Maria Grazia Chiuri have looked for inspiration. Guided tour of this exceptional place called “Dior Heritage.”
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In September 2016, Maria Grazia Chiuri, the first woman to become the creative director of the Dior, presented her first collection. The star piece of the show was the slingbacks: pumps with mini-heels and elastic strap with logotype J'adior. The design was more than appreciated by celebrities, influencers, and fashionistas, who made the shoes one of modern Dior’s star creations. So what is the secret of such success? It turns out, Maria Grazia Chiuri drew her inspiration from the archives of the house, in the heart of a secret place hidden behind the Haussmann façades of the Avenue Montaigne, called Dior Heritage. "This place is where all the memories of the house are stored, where Chiuri goes to immerse herself in Dior codes and reinterpret them in her collections. The fabulous slingbacks from the Spring / Summer 2017 collection were actually designed back in the 60s. Created by Roger Vivier for Christian Dior’s Autumn / Winter 1962 collection, the sandals in embroidered ivory silk taffeta are preciously kept in a custom-made box. Even though the slingbacks resemble the original design quite a lot, the designer modernised them with the catchphrase J’Adior, seen on many garments since it was first introduced.

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Maria Grazia Chiuri's J'Adior Pumps Inspired by Roger Vivier's Pumps for Christian Dior, Autumn / Winter 1962 © Estrop / Getty Images and Dior Focus Bryan Zammarchi

Grouping not only a library of books retracing the career of Christian Dior, his favorite recipes, his publications in the press at the time, but also all the creations of the house since 1946, the place contains the legacy of the Maison and is still updated continuously. Inside, everything is in ultra-modern white, and a team of specialists wearing whites gloves carefully look after the treasures, preserving Dior’s clothes, hats, shoes, and jewels in the best condition possible. Like a secret museum, the place also has paper archives, including sketchbooks made by the hand of the master, order books, descriptions of the collections, first press releases, and so on. The most fragile, precious, and rare creations are kept in a long and narrow room with aligned metal cabinets that look like safes. Inside, large, rigid cartons shelter the most delicate clothes: laid flat, they are surrounded by rolls of neutral tissue paper, making sure the garments are in perfect condition.

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The temperature is set between 18 and 20 degrees, light and humidity are strictly controlled, and containers have been specially designed to house each of the creations. Thus the covers are designed to avoid any contact with the fabric of the garment, tension (for example, on the straps of a dress), folds that, eventually, could turn into a tear. The hangers, made to measure, are upholstered. The hat boxes - huge and round - house the precious headgear without them sagging or deforming. The scarves are rolled in cardboard tubes that make sure the colours and patterns do not deteriorate.

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One of the scarves inspired Maria Grazia Chiuri for her Autumn / Winter 2018 / 2019 show presented in February 2018. The scarf, designed in 1967, had a message written on it: "It's no, no, no and no!". To make it more fresh and modern, Chiuri put the slogan on a jumper.

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Maria Grazia Chiuri's Knit Sweater for Dior Autumn / Winter 2018 / 2019 Show Inspired by a 1967 Dior Scarf © Victor Virgile / Getty Images and Dior

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