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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 April 2019

Belle of the ball: Dior brings bespoke nature of couture to its timepieces

A new customisation service is offering a highly personalised spin on Dior’s coveted Grand Bal

The Grand Bal’s rotor takes the form of a gown, with Dior now allowing wearers to customise their clockwork. Courtesy Dior
The Grand Bal’s rotor takes the form of a gown, with Dior now allowing wearers to customise their clockwork. Courtesy Dior

A multi-drawer leather coffret slides open to reveal a world of possibilities. A bezel set with brilliant or baguette diamonds? A case in gold or steel? A dial in coloured lacquer, mother-of-pearl, opal, veined turquoise or malachite? The choice is yours.

Dior has launched a “created-to-measure” service for its Grand Bal timepiece, bringing the customised, one-off appeal of haute couture clothing to its watchmaking offering. The new service allows customers to build a personalised Dior Grand Bal watch from scratch.

Christian Dior was a big fan of the lavish costume balls of post-war Paris, relishing the opportunities they provided for role play and drawing inspiration from the creativity on show during these grand occasions. At the Kings and Queens ball in Paris in 1949, Dior arrived dressed as the king of the jungle; at the Artists ball hosted by the Noailles in 1956, the designer came as French writer Jules-Amédée Barbey d’Aurevilly.

Dior surpassed himself in 1951, at a ball thrown by Charles de Beistegui at the Palazzo Labia in Venice, which came to be known as “the ball of the century”. Dior conspired with his friend Salvador Dalí and his wife, Gala, to create a parade of characters for the “Entrance of Giants”. Having made costumes for numerous guests, the designer himself appeared as the Phantom of Venice. It was “the most beautiful party I have ever or will ever see,” Dior reported.

“Parties like this are genuine works of art; people may be irritated by the very fact that they are on such a grand scale, but nevertheless they are desirable, necessary and important if they revive a taste for and sense of authentic enjoyment,” he said in his memoirs.

It was the Dior founder’s enthusiasm for such events that inspired the brand to launch the Grand Bal watch in 2011. Here, the textures, volume and movement of Dior’s couture gowns are re-imagined in horological form. “The ball gown makes you dream and must make you a dream woman,” Christian Dior said of his decadent dresses.

The timepiece is defined by a functioning and decorative rotor set within the dial that takes the form of a gown – emulating the gentle sweep of a dress as it twirls across a dance floor. In the watch’s various iterations since 2011, the “gown” has been crafted from precious metal, gemstones, feathers, gold threads, net, silk and the wings of scarab beetles.

The Dior VIII Grand Bal Plissé Ruban, for example, features a delicate gold petticoat interlaced with a sliver of silky ribbon. The dramatic-looking Dior Grand Bal Resille, meanwhile, features a “skirt” of latticed diamonds, shining forcefully against a black ceramic dial. For the Grand Bal Plissé Soleil, the rotor is crafted from metallic grey mother-of-pearl marquetry.

With Dior’s new “created-to-measure” service, you can choose to have this clockwork gown finely latticed, draped, feathered, sun-pleated or beribboned, in an extensive palette of colours. There is also the option to customise the back of the watch case with an engraved message.

One thing is certain: with 200 million possible outcomes presented by this new service, you are guaranteed to walk away with a unique piece.

Updated: April 10, 2019 04:04 PM

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