Working for Christian Dior

Jean Dawnay


Timed to coincide with the V&A exhibition Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams this short narrative, with many re-discovered illustrations, recounts a model’s personal experience of working for Christian Dior


Working for Christian Dior is a contemporary personal reflection by Jean Dawnay, taking from her autobiography Model Girl, on her season working as a salon model for Dior’s Spring/Summer collection of 1950.

Jean Dawnay’s status as one of the first household names in modelling was cemented in 1950 when she became the first Englishwoman to work for Christian Dior as a mannequin in his Paris salon. Re-christened ‘Caroline’ by the famed designer, she became the designer’s muse, who embodied a quintessential sense of Englishness. She was a model following Dior’s acclaimed ‘New Look’; a style of dress that revolutionised fashion in the aftermath of the lingering austerity of post war Europe, and which made him the foremost designer of the era.

The designs and legacy of Christian Dior have fascinated both critics and the general public for decades. Yet, other than Dior’s own autobiography, Jean Dawnay’s insights are the only surviving first-hand account of the intricacies of daily life working at the fashion house. This unique account invites you to delve under the couture veneer and to glimpse both the man beneath and the extraordinary women who worked alongside him in this golden age of fashion.

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About the Author

JEAN DAWNAY was born in Brighton in 1925. Prior to becoming a model she worked in SOE during the Second World War. She later was known not only for her looks but also for her writing and particularly for her two autobiographical accounts of her modelling career, Model Girl, published in 1956 and How I Became a Fashion Model, published in 1958. She later married a White Russian Prince and devoted herself to philanthropy in London and Russia. She died in 2016.