When she decided to create a fashion comic, French illustrator Anne Goetzinger considered her country’s three most iconic designers: Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and Christian Dior. She began researching and was struck by the preponderance of novels, documentaries, and coffee table books about the first two and the relative mystery surrounding the third. Intrigued to dig deeper, she began work on Girl in Dior, a whimsically illustrated docudrama about the rise of the fashion house told through the eyes of a fictitious writer who becomes one of Dior’s models. Lush in its depictions and wittily captioned, the book acts as a dreamy portal into the height of couture. On Monday night, Goetzinger sat down with illustrator Bil Donovan at the French Consulate in New York to discuss her book and take a closer look at the designer’s legacy.
“What I was attracted to was [Dior’s] love of excellence not extravagance,” explained Goetzinger. “He was bourgeois and that played out in his work, but his designs still came from this idea of less is more. Of course, that could mean 1,000 paillettes instead of 3,000, but like everything—it is relative.” A veteran clothing illustrator in his own right, Donovan touched upon Goetzinger’s aesthetic choices especially the unusual way she chose to depict the birth of Dior’s most well-known silhouettes. “I was really impressed with your use of perspective,” said Donovan. “Like when we first see his iconic Bar dress, which I believe is shot through the legs of a model—I remember thinking it looked so heroic.”
Goetzinger also took a moment to share some entertaining anecdotes including one about the unorthodox applicants that attended Dior’s open model castings. “It’s a funny fact that there were some prostitutes that found Dior’s advertisement looking for mannequins,” said the illustrator laughing. “They figured they could get dressed and undressed better than almost anyone else. Why not?”