Who better than the artistic director of Dior Maison, Cordelia de Castellane, to give us a master class in eating outdoors?
Words by KELSEY McKINNON
Photography by SARA PRINCE
Cordelia de Castellane, artistic director of Dior Maison and Baby Dior, wearing an apron from the garden collection.
Cordelia de Castellane, the glamorous artistic director of Baby Dior and Dior Maison, was just 31 years old when she began her tenure at the legendary French fashion house. Of course, she never met Monsieur Dior, but she senses his presence. “I feel quite close to him,” she says. “Not about his creativity — I don’t dare to say that because he’s above all — but we both have the same sensibilities. He liked the same things as me: flowers, nature, the way he was when he was young, the way that he had to make some choices that were not the choices of the parents. [He makes me] feel less alone in my career.”
Perhaps nothing is more emblematic of de Castellane and Monsieur Dior’s shared passion than the house’s latest Maison collection celebrating lily of the valley. For Dior, who was famously superstitious, the bloom was a lucky charm that was embroidered inside his couture gowns and tucked into his own lapel every day of the year. In the new collection, de Castellane unveils hand-painted tablecloths, water pitchers, wine glasses and woven napkin holders featuring the delicate white bells alongside a series of gardening accessories and baskets displaying another favorite keepsake, the four-leaf clover. The pieces feel equally at home in her elegant apartment in Paris or at her enchanting country house just north of the city, a place that she says reminds her of the beauty of Montecito. De Castellane’s flower garden, which blooms year round, is half English, half French, with bulbs imported from Belgium. “My garden is my shrink. It’s my escape. It’s my fifth baby,” says the designer, who is mother to four children.
Lily of the valley and clover items from Dior Maison.
De Castellane grew up in the mountains of Switzerland and hails from a pedigreed background of European aristocrats and aesthetes. As a young girl, she was a frequent figure in the Chanel ateliers, observing her uncle Gilles Dufour, Karl Lagerfeld’s studio director and longtime collaborator. She spent a summer in California as part of an exchange program in her youth. When she was 16, she was taken under the wing of Emanuel Ungaro and continued working at the house under Giambattista Valli. After several years, she took some time away to focus on family and launched her own children’s line, CdeC, before Dior came calling.
Now, whether she’s designing a story for Baby Dior or Dior Maison, or working on special projects such as the new Monsieur Dior restaurant in Paris or the opening ball of the Venice Biennale, no two days are alike. “As soon as you give me a routine, things will get boring for me,” says de Castellane. The same philosophy applies for how she sets her own table, which she rotates every two to three days with different textiles, flowers and little surprises, be it animal figurines or fresh fruits. “Of course, certain things will always be there. … You will never find candles at lunchtime or you will never find plastic, but for the rest, I have no rules.”
Feature image: An intimate garden table adorned with Dior Maison’s new lily of the valley tabletop pieces.
This story originally appeared in the Summer 2022 issue of C Magazine.
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