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    M. Christian Dior, the famous French couture designer, died suddenly today at Montecatini, Italy, at?

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    Background: M. Christian Dior, the famous French couture designer, died suddenly today at Montecatini, Italy, at the age of 52. He had never been strong constitutionally and although sudden, his death was not entirely unexpected.

    A rare genius and master of his craft. Dior's name will stand high in the records of fine achievement in the field of couture design. Women the world over came to him for their gowns.

    Here our pictures take you back to 1951 when Dior received Princess Margaret at his salon.

    To 1954, when Dior is seen studying a gown worn by one of his mannequins.

    To 1955, to a typical Dior fashion show at the Sorbonne.

    Born on January 21, 1905, at Granville in Normandy, he was the only son of Maurice Dior, a wealthy chemical manufacturer. As a youth he delighted in designing clothes for his sisters, so it was in the blood from the start.

    The Diplomatic Corps, not dress-designing, was originally planned for the young Dior. He studied political science at the Sorbonne, but the French financial crisis of 1930-31 crippled the family business and allowed him an escape from a future in diplomacy. Always interested in art, with the help of friends he set up a small salon in the Rue La Boetie, in the centre of Paris and helped launch Christian Berard. After a period of ill-health when he went to the mountains to recover, Dior returned to start designing in earnest, first with Agnes, then with Robert Piguet. On the outbreak of war he retired to the country, but after a while he returned to Paris to join Lelong as designer. Not long after he met Marcel Boussac and a partnership was arranged culminating in the widely publicized first collection in the spring of 1947. He never looked back.

    Christian Dior's very real affection for England and things English steamed from his first visit at the age of 19 when he came over to convalesce. He had many friends here, and always employed at least one British mannequin at all his shows.

    The throne is vacant. Who will follow?

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