Falling in Love With Dior: A Story of Coincidences
On Christmas Eve, the School of Fashion randomly selected three students from more than 300 students with a 3.0 or higher GPA across all School of Fashion degrees to go to Paris as guests of Christian Dior. Students Cory Paglinco (BFA Fashion Design, Senior), Kathleen Coltman (AAS Fashion Design, Senior) and Sehjeung (Candice) Kim (BFA Fashion Design, Sophomore) were selected. Kathleen Coltman wrote the following editorial about her experience in Paris.
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It was about 6pm in the evening on Saturday when I found myself hailing a cab, weighed down by luggage, and pinching myself over this dream come true. A few weeks prior I had woken up to an email saying I had won a trip to fly to Paris to attend the Christian Dior Spring/Summer 2014 Haute Couture Show.
Jaw drop. Really? Me?
The flight to Paris passed by in the blink of an eye. I arrived in a whirlwind—no sleep, all adrenaline and excitement. We were picked up by a Dior car, in which the fashion house filmed us about our expectations, our travels, and our anticipation of the next two days’ events. The itinerary was still a mystery to us, which made each event a new surprise for what was to come.
On that first afternoon, we toured the atelier and saw a few of the pieces that were in their final stages before the show the following day. Each garment we saw was worked on with the care of a fine-hand and a true love for the piece being made. My favorite was the “flou” atelier, where the dresses are made and the fabrics used are like delicate French pastries, comparable to the colors and delicacy of a macaron.
The talent in each room was incredible. Generations of people sat or stood around worktables in white coats. There wasn’t just modern skill at work in the room; many of the skills and techniques we saw had been handed down for generations, and perhaps were even being handed down right before our eyes as we watched methods that could capture pearls in the bubble of sheer fabric or contain a feather in a seed bead. I left the atelier with the sense that I had just witnessed greatness, as I was just allowed a peek at a part of the industry often shrouded in mystery. For the rest of the night we were left to our own devices in the city of light and love.
The following morning, we loaded into taxis to 30 Avenue Montaigne, each of us clutching our personal invitations to the Dior Show. Christian Dior and LVMH had a Creative Day planned for us in which we learned the history of Dior, all the while sitting just steps away from the original salon where Christian Dior himself showed his collections in the 1940s. It was here in this townhouse that Dior first began his destiny, but it didn’t always begin that way. Before Dior was Dior, he had been invited to become the artistic director of Philippe et Gaston. Dior had doubts about his future, but it would be his belief in signs that eventually allowed him to believe in himself. As the story goes Dior was taking a walk to consider his future and tripped over a gold star on the sidewalk of rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, This star was the sign he needed to make the decision to open a fashion house in his name, and thus, Christian Dior—a star—was born.
It was raining as I stood in the courtyard of the Musée Rodin later that evening, waiting in excited anticipation of my first Haute Couture fashion show. I held a black umbrella and stared up at the golden letters: DIOR. As I walked the carpet in the courtyard and climbed the stairs, I leaned over to share my umbrella with a woman struggling to open hers. We laughed a little over the rain—how can there be rain during couture week?—and both gazed over at the Eiffel Tower that had just began to light up and sparkle. A magical glow was settling over the night, when the woman asked me if I was from around there. I fumbled over my French words, and she graciously began speaking in English of her life in Paris. Already having me at “bonjour,” she need only mention very little about her romantic life in Paris before I was a true Francophile convert. Although she loved Paris, she told me there was another place that was very dear to her heart. As luck would have it, she had lived in New York in her twenties, just paces away from my current apartment. “I wonder,” I thought, “could I be her one day?”
The show’s grandeur never faded before we were swept back to our hotel and on to a dinner with a few of our new friends at Dior. I had the surprise pleasure of sitting with various members of the house, among them Philippe Le Moult, a director at Dior. We spoke about the show, the atelier visit, viewing pieces from the archive and my sheer delight in seeing sketches and garments done by Christian Dior himself, including the iconic “New Look” ensemble from 1947.
Taking a nibble of his crème brûlée, Mr. Le Moult turned to me and asked, “So why were you chosen?” After a moment of musing over the day, I replied to him, “Certainly not by coincidence.” Mr. Le Moult asked me if I was familiar with French expressions and proceeded to tell me that in France they had a saying loosely translated as: In life there are no coincidences, just meeting people.
Thank you Dior and Parsons for the opportunity for the non-coincidental opportunity of just meeting good people.
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Kathleen Coltman is a senior in the AAS Fashion Design program at Parsons. She attended the Christian Dior Spring/Summer 2014 Fashion show with Cory Paglinco (Senior, BFA Fashion Design), Candice Kim (Sophomore, BFA Fashion Design), and Associate Dean Yvonne Watson. They represented Parsons with 60 other students from universities around the world and were allowed a peek into the world of Raf Simon’s Christian Dior Haute Couture.
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