>> Malcolm McLaren is typically associated with Vivienne Westwood when it comes to fashion, but these days, he's thinking a lot about a different designer: Christian Dior.
For over a year, McLaren has been working on a Broadway musical, The Life and Times of Christian Dior, and plans to finalize the casting in New York over the next few months. The musical marks an extension of the fascination with designers we've seen recently, especially in the case of Coco Chanel, the subject of two forthcoming biopics — Coco avant Chanel and Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky. But of course, McLaren's piece will be about Dior, and set to music — authentic music of the period — no punk music here.
He told Interview in their October 2008 issue that he didn't know whether we'll see Dior singing and dancing — "I can't quite imagine that yet, but hey, who knows? It's possible."
But the musical "has to be radical in its presentation" »
"It involved a story I was told that took place in Paris between 1947 and '57 . . . about how rock 'n' roll emerged as a force that really changed the face of France, of Paris — of their industry, their luck, their haute couture instinct. That fascinated me because of how Paris attempted after the war to regain its position as the center of civilization, trying to bring back La Belle Époque, and not knowing how to do it in those postwar austere times. And meanwhile America was knocking at their door, this whole postwar culture of desires rather than necessity, in the form of products that we never knew could exist before-this whole youth culture, rock 'n' roll, blue jeans, and icons like Marilyn Monroe."
"So here you have this house of haute couture, the house of Christian Dior that opened in '47 on the coldest day they'd seen in 50 years in Paris, with people freezing in the salons and watching this display of clothes that really sent everybody back to the dark ages of La Belle Époque. These hourglass-shaped women, these full skirts, these padded thighs, these false icons. But that ultimately became something embraced by Hollywood to be used as an image to convey the new teenage rock 'n' roll lifestyle. Now how did they do that? How did they take something made by this man — Christian Dior, who was already middle-aged and trying to reinvent his mother's costumes — and wed that to every James Dean and Elvis Presley look-alike in Hollywood, and make this clothing that was almost a symbol of reactionary thinking into a symbol of the outlaw spirit and of rebellion and the youth culture? That idea just fascinated me."
"I began to really read about Paris after the liberation, and about what happened, and about what its youth was, and then suddenly I saw a story that really could define music and fashion and how it all happened after the postwar and where it all went. And if I could do that, and trap it, inside this house of Christian Dior, from its birth in '47 to Dior's death in '57 — that seemed to me something worth really investigating as a musical. And if I didn't have to do it in the way that musicals were made in the past, then that would be something I would — really fight for. So it was a question of coming up with the vision of how to do that. It's a sexy story about the time and inside the house and the life and times of Christian Dior."