Meet Jean Dawnay, Dior's English rose


Jean Dawnay, or ‘Caroline’ as she was known, was a house model for Dior during the years 1949 – 50. Her transformation from ‘frumpy’ post-war English model to polished Dior mannequin saw her become one of the original supermodels. Her daughter, Princess Katya Galitzine, discusses her Mother’s Dior years, the infamous British fashion shows and her fondness for Christian Dior, himself.

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King dawn a was my mother this is a lovely deal picture from officiel I love it because it's so new look the black and the white her face has become so serene and sophisticated from having been this father plain English girl this is who she became and this is my mom Jean Dona was the first well-known English model to go and work in the salon at Christian Dior so she turned up in Paris in 1949 and had the bravado to go and literally knock on the doors of three very well-known designers they all offered her work for the next season and she thought because of Christian Dior being the name it was that was the one she went for he despite the fact that he was offering the least money from the beginning she had a very English post-war look designers of course were all in Paris there were a few that were in England but as you can see from the pictures frumpy but of course everyone knew about Dior she writes about is in probably the first book from a models viewpoint so there is some lovely bits to pick on from model girl I went to 30 Avenue Montaigne a large grey double frontage house with Christian Dior written discretely in black letters on the gray awning over the front entrance I asked to see the person in charge of booking mannequins and was ushered in to meet madame roola there were a lot of other girls there that day also hoping to get a deal contract and they were all terrifically glamorous which dampened my confidence after trying on one or two dresses which fitted beautifully I was taken upstairs to a room which I later learned was Monsieur Duras studio to meet the great man himself he was so pleasant and polite to me that it put me at my ease immediately and looked to my mind more like a country priest than a great dress designer but I soon discovered behind his gentle and unassuming manner was a very shrewd mind he asked me to walk about in the dress it gave me confidence later Madame Luling asked when would I be available to start work she got her contract in December 1949 to come back in January 1950 and worked for the spring/summer season at Christian Dior as the house mannequin deal called her karolina and then she was in his first show in London the Savoy he picked eight girls out of his 14 and they were lovely reportage of paths a with Karolina she's shown twice the English knew her a bit already so after the Savoy show that the models were all snuck away from the hotel because there was a secret show for the Queen Mother as we know but who was the Queen at the time and Princess Margaret one Dave deal kept her standing pinning last-minute changes right through to 2:00 a.m. it was a dress that he suddenly had an inspiration for at 6 p.m. the day before show it was incredibly busy and stressful and they were really overworked absolute perfectionist but her favorite thing about it was of course the man himself he was he was charming when she thought I just can't do another season he was very sad and he gently said are you sure you can but very much respected gene my mother and she him despite her not being actually a silent mannequin after 1950 she continued to model Dior and became one of the first supermodels in in England the story about this dress which we've donated to the Victorian Albert collection no net little none obviously meant a lot to her because she kept it was made for the spring/summer seasons of 1950 and of course she wanted to be a siren in a sophisticate and for christian dior she was just this pure and demure quintessentially English rose [Applause]

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