Christian Dior’s Lucky Lily of the Valley

By Stuart Dyer


Christian Dior store at 30 Rue Montaigne in Paris with a lily of the valley installation, 2020


Christian Dior was a very superstitious man. He went to clairvoyants, looked for signs in the universe and carried good luck charms with him wherever he went. Dior made these lucky charms into house symbols at Dior and incorporated them into his designs. The charms included a four-leaf clover, a star, a bee, the number 8, and his favorite flower – the lily of the valley. Dior made the lily of the valley an essential part of his couture. The flower showed up in printed and embroidered fabrics, in trims, in the construction of his clothing designs and even in the perfumes that he created. It became so strongly associated with the brand that lilies of the valley can still be seen in the House of Dior’s designs today.


Embroidered lily of the valley fabric from a 1956 Dior dress which was created for the film, the Paris Place Hotel.


1950s Dior dress with embellished lily of the valley fabric and trim.


Lilies of the valley were introduced to Europe from Japan in the 16th century. They quickly became a favorite flower amongst Europeans and became a symbol of good luck, hope, renewal, and the coming of spring. For the French, it is traditional on May 1st to give bouquets of lilies of the valley to loved ones. This tradition started on May 1, 1561, with King Charles IX.


Lily of the valley street vendors in Paris in 1950 selling bouquets for the May 1st celebration.


Dior always kept an antique reliquary filled with a lily of the valley blossom in his jacket pocket and pinned a sprig of the flower to his lapel. In order to assure that fresh lilies of the valley were always available, Dior instructed his florist in Paris to cultivate the spring bloom all year round. Every May 1st Dior gave his “little hands” or craftspeople who executed his haute couture designs, bouquets of lilies of the valley. These were also given to Dior’s biggest customers.


1950s Christian Dior lily of the valley Gripoix glass and pearl brooch.


In 1947 Dior presented his first haute-couture collection and introduced the “New Look” – a look that would become synonymous with Dior. It featured designs with rounded shoulders, a cinched waist, and a very full skirt. These designs were presented at 30 Avenue Montaigne where the salons were filled with lily of the valley bouquets for luck. Additionally a dried sprig of lily of the valley was sewn into the hem of every one of the couture creations.


1987 Dior reproduction of a suit from the 1947 premiere collection. Model holds a bouquet of lilies of the valley.


In 1954 lily of the valley was the inspiration for Dior’s Spring/Summer haute-couture collection. The collection was called, ’Muguet’ or ‘Lily of the Valley’. It placed a new emphasis on organic construction by using such techniques as princess lines. The Chicago History Museum has a dress from the 1954 Muguet collection in its archives. The dress was owned and donated by Chicagoan, Ruth Page (March 22, 1899 – April 7, 1991). Page was an American dancer, choreographer, author, and ballet company director. The dress is a strapless evening gown made out of layers of ivory silk tulle embellished with embroidery, rhinestones, and silver sequins.


Chicagoan Ruth Page.


In 1956 Dior with the help of expert perfumer, Edmond Roudnitska came up with a perfume based on the scent of lily of the valley. It took several years to create the perfume since lily of the valley does not have an essential oil. The scent was created by combining other scents. When the perfume was finished, it was called Diorissimo. It has remained one of the most popular scents for women and is seen by many as the defining moment of the career of Roudnatska.


1956 Diorissimo perfume bottle designed by Baccarat.


When Dior died in 1957 at the age of 52, lily of the valley was even a part of his funeral. The model Lia Lucas said at the time, “Monsieur Dior’s coffin was covered in lilies of the valley, his favorite flower… Where they found all that lily of the valley in the month of November still intrigues me.”


Rene Gruau 1956 illustration for Diorissimo perfume.


Years after Dior’s death, the lily of the valley continues to be an important motif for the House of Dior. For Spring 2023 Cordelia de Castellane (Dior Maison’s artistic director) designed a line of Dior tableware called, ‘New Lily of the Valley.’ The collection features Limoges porcelain with a revisited green lily of the valley motif. Also for Spring 2023, Dior’s jewelry line features a silver-tone lily of the valley brooch embellished with gray and white freshwater pearls.


Porcelain plate from Dior’s ‘New Lily of the Valley’ collection, 2023.


It seems that the good luck believed by Christian Dior to be generated by the lily of the valley continues for the House of Dior today!


Dior lily of the valley brooch from the  Spring 2023 collection


Stuart Dyer is the owner of Ladybug Vintage

follow @ladybugvintage on Instagram

or go to