THINK PINK: The love affair between Christian Dior and interior design has been well documented, but relatively little is known about Victor Grandpierre and Georges Geffroy, the decorators who helped to define the couturier’s identifying codes.
Maureen Footer, a historian specializing in the French decorative arts, seeks to shed a new light on the friendship between the three men in her book “Dior and His Decorators: Victor Grandpierre, Georges Geffroy and the New Look,” published by Vendome Press and featuring a foreword by Hamish Bowles.
“I really believe that all applied arts and decorative arts are really coming from the same source: they’re a reflection of a moment in time,” Footer said at a book signing event at the English-language Galignani bookstore in Paris.
“And when I saw Dior’s house photographed in an old Vogue from the Fifties — because I’d worked at Vogue years ago – it always stayed with me that I was interested in Victor Grandpierre and Georges Geffroy, and there was really nothing to be found,” she added.
She was tickled to discover that Geffroy, who designed Dior’s Paris apartment to reflect his eclectic tastes, wore makeup — more than half a century before the practice became widespread.
Grandpierre, in turn, famously defined not only Dior’s signature colors — gray and pink — but also made the Louis XVI chair key to the iconography of the house, which was heavily influenced by the 18th century.
“Grandpierre — unlike Georges Geffroy and [current Dior architect] Peter Marino — was a very self-effacing, very modest, literary, quiet person, rather like Dior, and not one to publicize his efforts, and it wasn’t the era when they did it, so he’d really been forgotten, even at Dior,” said Footer.
In addition to decorating the label’s headquarters on Avenue Montaigne, he designed the displays and packaging of iconic perfumes such as Miss Dior. Footer said Grandpierre’s influence could be seen in the pink suits and Toile de Jouy patterns that Kim Jones showed in his debut men’s wear collection for Dior in June.
“The more I read about that point in time, the more I felt I was looking at our own time. You know, postwar Paris was really a time of great transition. People didn’t really have a sense of an anchor politically, economically, technologically,” she noted.
“And the reaction of Dior, Grandpierre and Geffroy was to look at history, not to go back and hide in it, but to use it as a way to help identify and understand who we are, to make modern life — with all of its convulsions — a little kinder, gentler, more elegant,” she added.
“I really felt that this is what we learn by studying Dior and his decorators: that our past can come with us and really enhance our current experience of life,” Footer concluded.