Christian Dior

EPIC TALE: Christian Dior hosted a screening on Monday for “Christian Dior, la France,” a documentary about its founder released to coincide with the house’s 70th anniversary.

Directed by Frédéric Mitterrand, former culture minister, author, documentary maker and nephew of former French president François Mitterrand, the two-part film tells the story of Dior’s life from his childhood in Normandy to his international fame as creator of the New Look in 1947.

“The film is three hours long. It tells the story of Dior’s life from the inside, I believe, and attempts to explain the extraordinary personality of this shy, reserved man who avoided press and whose artistic life was brief, since he wore himself out with work and died after 10 years of designing,” the filmmaker said.

A screengrab from “Christian Dior, la France.”  SK Médias

The film delves into Dior’s brief career as a composer, his beginnings as an art gallerist, his private life and his relationships with artists, stars and fashion personalities such as Jean Cocteau, Christian Bérard, Marlene Dietrich, Alexander and Tatiana Liberman and Carmel Snow.

“He comes across as a total genius, and at the same time a man of great moral fiber, infinite kindness and extraordinary courage and ability,” Mitterrand told the audience in a screening room at Les Arts Décoratifs, which is hosting a sprawling retrospective titled “Christian Dior, Dream Couturier.”

The film has been broadcast since June 29 on French-language global television network TV5 Monde. Yves Bigot, managing director of the network, noted it reaches 320 million homes worldwide, with programming subtitled in 14 languages.

“The sum of Dior plus Frédéric guarantees that you will, as you always do in your films, tell more than the adventure of one man and one house, but a broader story about all of us and about France in the 20th century,” he said.

Christian Dior

The poster for “Christian Dior, la France.”  SK Médias

Noting that the film was three years in the making, Olivier Bialobos, vice president of international communications at Christian Dior Couture, said Mitterrand uncovered archival material unknown to the house, which earlier this year opened Dior Heritage, a museum-worthy archive in central Paris.

“For the house, it’s extraordinary because we gained film footage, anecdotes and witness accounts that we did not have in our archives,” he said.