What visuals transpire when thinking about the house of Christian Dior? Is it the soft shoulders, nipped waist and full skirts of the 1947 ‘New Look’? The outlandish excess and embellishment of Galliano-era Dior couture? The iconic dove grey interior of the brand’s Peter Marino-designed boutiques? Or, is it the cannage pattern that has become a symbolic motif for the house of Dior since its inception in the late 1940s?
Caning, an old fashion technique of weaving on a frame using rattan cane, first appeared on the seats and backs of chairs in the mid 18th century. The decorative motif soon became synonymous with furniture design throughout Western Europe during the reign of Louis XV, having appeared on sofas, armchairs and headboards.
Nearly two centuries later, Christian Dior debuted his first collection for his namesake French couture house amongst a sea of eighteenth century cannage chairs. Monsieur Dior, seemingly enchanted by the furniture’s design, began experimenting with the chair’s old fashion canning technique, eventually employing the pattern as a decorative motif for the brand’s “Eau Fraîche” perfume in 1953. In the years that followed, Dior’s predecessors returned to this theme often, incorporating the pattern within the designs of clothing, accessories and fine jewelry.
Throughout the 1960s, creative director Marc Bohan developed a number of tweed and Op Art fabrics that took inspiration from canning, while in the 1980s, Gianfranco Ferrè produced dresses and coats in a fabric that mirrored canning in a more literally vein. In 1994, the French house introduced their first Lady Dior handbag, initially made of soft lambskin leather topstitched with the brand’s iconic Cannage motif.
Canning quickly became a prominent architectural feature within Dior’s international flagship boutiques, while in the early 2000s, creative director John Galliano reinterpreted this classical motif through a post-modern lens with the introduction of the brand’s initial pattern, designed to resemble classic Dior canning through letters in place of lines.