Dior and His Decorators: Victor Grandpierre, Georges Geffroy, and the New Look

Like the unabashedly luxurious fashions of Christian Dior’s New Look, which debuted in 1947, the interior designs of Victor Grandpierre and Georges Geffroy infused a war-weary world with a sumptuous new aesthetic—a melding of the refined traditions of the past with a wholly modern sense of elegance.

Author Maureen Footer recounts the lives and work of this influential trio, illustrated with a trove of evocative vintage photographs. She traces the aesthetic trajectory of Dior from his coddled childhood in Normandy through his first career as a gallerist to his phenomenal success as a couturier. Dior tapped Victor Grandpierre, a photojournalist, to design his first couture house at 30, avenue Montaigne. Grandpierre created not only the chic, elegantly restrained look of Dior’s salons (pale gray walls, white moldings, and Louis-XVI-style chairs) but also the template for the Dior brand, including typeface, logo, signage, and packaging—still followed to this day. Georges Geffroy, an aesthete and connoisseur of eighteenth-century antiques, shepherded Dior into the couture world with an introduction to the couturier Robert Piguet in 1937. When Dior acquired a townhouse in the fashionable 16th arrondissement, he asked both Grandpierre and Geffroy (who worked independently) to design the interior, assigning the private rooms to the former and the public rooms to the latter. The results were, like Dior’s haute couture creations, rich, sensual, and refined.

Both Grandpierre and Geffroy also designed salons for other couturiers, as well as homes for royals, Parisian socialites, wealthy ex-pats, film stars, and artists, ranging from Yves Saint Laurent and Marcel Rochas to Baron de Redé, Arturo López-Willshaw, Élie and Liliane de Rothschild, Gloria Guinness, Daisy Fellowes, and Maria Callas. These interiors, marked by luxurious fabrics, antiques, personally curated objects, clear colors, comfort, and old-fashioned ceremony, were featured in the cultural, fashion, and shelter magazines of the day and were emulated all over the world.

Whenever today’s tastemakers reach for gray and white, leopard and houndstooth, satin skirts and sunburst mirrors, they pay homage to the New Look chic of Dior, Grandpierre, and Geffroy. They are also replicating the artistic process of these three Parisian aesthetes who referred to the past while stripping it of irrelevance. Dior and his decorators knew that heritage—modified, preserved, but never embalmed—was a resource to enhance the everyday.