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The Public Time of Private Space in Dior by Dior

From: Biography
Volume 35, Number 4, Fall 2012
pp. 668-689 | 10.1353/bio.2012.0053



This essay reads the life writing of major French fashion designer Christian Dior as an extended meditation on the challenging relationship between public persona and intimate selfhood for a celebrity fashion designer. Dior works through the tension between public and private by referring it to a complex nexus of space and time; his narration of his life through the lens of his childhood homes suggests not only a spatial orientation but a fraught relationship to the past. Dior’s characteristic reflections on space and time reveal him to be a nostalgic subject, but by theorizing nostalgia as a creative mnemonic mode, we challenge understandings of him as excessively conservative in his tastes and designs. Ultimately, Dior’s constellation of space and time points to new methodological tools for understanding fashion designers and their celebrity.