Before there was Christian Dior the couturier, there was Dior the gallerist. And while the gallery lasted only six years, before shuttering in 1934, it confirmed Dior's unerring eye. That an unknown artist named Salvador Dali—plus rising stars such as Giacometti, Man Ray, Picasso, Max Ernst, and Cocteau—came to wider public attention was to Dior's credit.
In that spirit, the house of Dior tapped fifteen female artists from all over to interpret Miss Dior, his first fragrance. Natalie Portman, the face of Miss Dior, was on hand last night to tour the exhibition at the Grand Palais, accompanied by Benjamin Millepied, LVMH chief Bernard Arnault, French first lady Valérie Trierweiler, Karl Lagerfeld, Dior president Sidney Toledano, and the U.S. Ambassador Charles Rivkin. "These pieces are incredible," noted Portman. "I loved meeting the artists and hearing about how Dior dedicated his first perfume to his sister, who fought in the Resistance. That all this memory and history is intertwined with the perfume was really moving. It's like creating light after a dark period." Tomoko Shioyasu, Ionna Vautrin, Joana Vasconcelos, and Lara Baladi were among the other artists represented.
As the party heated up, Dior perfumer-creator François Demachy remarked, "I spend my life composing perfumes, so I know how hard it is to speak of them properly. To see artists express the idea of perfume, and Miss Dior in particular, gives me new paths to explore. It's very touching."