Dior and Me: Interview with Helmer Joseph - McCord Museum

In conjunction with the Christian Dior exhibition

© Laura Dumitriu – Musée McCord Museum

Dior and Me: Interview with Helmer Joseph

In conjunction with the exhibition, Christian Dior, the McCord Museum has commissioned Montreal designer Helmer Joseph to create three Dior dresses using original patterns from the House of Dior dating from the 1950s. This is a unique invitation for all fashion lovers to travel back in time for an insider’s view of the Golden Age of haute couture!

If you missed the beginning of this original project,
you can learn more at: An Insider’s View of Haute Couture

Helmer Joseph was only a year old when Christian Dior died. Although the Haitian designer did not actually experience the great French couturier’s 10 years of glory, he was nonetheless influenced by him.

What is your earliest memory of Christian Dior?

When I think of Christian Dior, I don’t think about the man, or even one of his signature creations. Instead, I see these iconic images taken on the quays of Paris. That is Dior for me! He is, of course, the “New Look,” but above all he is the eternal ambience and elegance of 1940s Paris that comes through in these photographs.

Would you say that, like these images, Dior’s style is timeless?

Definitely! You have only to look at the biggest red carpets for proof that the Dior look has remained on point. The silhouettes the French couturier designed 70 years ago are just as contemporary and relevant today.

How has Christian Dior influenced you?

When I look back, my first creative endeavours were inspired by Dior. From a very young age, I was not at all interested in ready-to-wear; I wanted to do haute couture! I dreamt of going to Paris to learn the art of couture and build up a loyal clientele. In short, I wanted to emulate his success.

Are there any parallels between you and Christian Dior?

I have thought about him a lot throughout this project and I’ve realized that we are both discreet. Christian Dior dressed queens and the biggest stars of his time, but he remained a simple man who enjoyed spending time in the country, far from high society. When it comes to my work and achievements, I am also very understated, or even reserved—and let’s just say that I don’t go out much!

  • © Laura Dumitriu – Musée McCord Museum
  • © Laura Dumitriu – Musée McCord Museum
  • © Laura Dumitriu – Musée McCord Museum
  • © Laura Dumitriu – Musée McCord Museum
From the toile to the finished garment… See the dresses:
Dior, From Sketches to Dresses: Made by Helmer Joseph

This project is carried out in conjunction with the exhibition, Christian Dior, produced by the Royal Ontario Museum, and presented by Holt Renfrew Ogilvy.

Fabrics used to make these three dresses come from Couture Elle, who carries luxury fabrics of the high quality that this project requires.

The Museum would like to thank the École supérieure de mode | ESG UQAM for offering its collaboration.

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