Marc Bohan, the French designer who headed Dior for three decades, has died at the age of 97. “We deeply regret announcing the passing of Marc Bohan, a great visionary and a passionate creator who marked both the history of fashion and that of our house,” toThe French firm announced today on its Instagram.
Born in Paris, he inherited his passion for sewing from his mother, a milliner. At the age of 23 he began working in the atelier by Edward Molyneux, where he managed to dress myths like Marlene Dietrich. She would later spend several years at the Patou couture house and in 1960, shortly after turning 30, she was tasked with the challenge of taking up Yves Saint Laurent’s baton at the head of Christian Dior. He held the position of creative director of the brand, one of the most emblematic of luxury, until 1989, and thus became the designer who has remained with the brand the longest.
Yeah monsieur Dior put an end to the austere clothing of World War II with his acclaimed and very opulent ‘new look’ of 1946, and Saint Laurent later breathed modernity and youth into the brand with, among others, his trapeze-cut dresses and his beatnik aesthetic. , Bohan maintained a creative profile halfway between classicism and rigor; garments stripped of superfluous decorations and modeled with contained cuts and silhouettes. In fact, before leading the design team, Bohan worked for two years at Dior’s headquarters in London; There, in the middle of the post-war period, the New Look of the founder of the brand was prohibited because it required several meters of fabric to make it, and the French creator learned to mix the codes of the house with more austere references typical of the times. “My youth has been accompanied by Bohan’s creations, he was a great innovator who knew how to condense the vitality of the sixties,” says the current creative director of the firm, Maria Grazia Chiuri, in the statement. The Italian designer, in fact, has referenced Bohan’s fluid shapes and use of color in several of her collections.
Bohan kept a low profile, creatively and personally, compared to other great designers of the second half of the 20th century. However, its influence is undeniable, not only because its style, content and architecture have influenced designers such as Miuccia Prada or Diane von Furstenberg (this is illustrated by the book that covers her almost thirty years at Dior, published in 2018 by Assouline). , also and above all, because he dressed all the great style divas of that time: he was a personal friend (and, therefore, leading designer) of profiles as diverse as Elizabeth Taylor, Françoise Sagan or Niki de Saint Phalle, and Grace Kelly was among his main clients. In fact, one of the designer’s most remembered designs is the wedding dress that he made for Carolina de Monaco for her wedding to Philippe Junot. He also created clothes for then-American first lady Jackie Kennedy.
Bohan was able to successfully adapt to the structural changes in the sector. He launched the house’s ready-to-wear line, previously known as Miss Dior, opened up to the children’s market and men’s fashion, and under his mandate perfumes such as Diorling and Eau Sauvage were created. But in 1981, Willot Group, the company that owned Dior, declared bankruptcy. Shortly after, in 1984, a young Bernard Arnault bought the brand, thus laying one of the first stones in the now all-powerful luxury conglomerate LVMH. They say that Arnault took over the firm for a symbolic handful of francs; With him, however, Dior, and fashion in general, changed their market dynamics and opted for spectacle and entertainment.
It is also said that, in 1989, Bohan learned from the press that Arnault had fired him. He would be replaced by Gianfranco Ferré, who at that time was achieving success with his eponymous brand of colorful and exuberant suits. After a brief stint at the British firm Hartnell, Bohan decided to retire in the early nineties. He created some commissioned pieces under his own name until the turn of the century, when he retired to a mansion near London. He was the last great designer of the golden age of haute couture.
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