Georgetown Resident Is Co-Author of ‘Dior in Bloom’


Georgetown has been a stylish neighborhood since its Jackie O. days (and most likely well before that, too). The community is adding to its fashion-icon status with the new book “Dior in Bloom,” co-authored by Georgetown resident Naomi A. Sachs, Ph.D., assistant professor in the University of Maryland’s department of plant science and landscape architecture and founding director of the Therapeutic Landscapes Network.

Each chapter of “Dior in Bloom” explores a different aspect of designer Christian Dior’s life and work. Sachs writes about nature as Dior’s inspiration and restoration. Essays by Alain Stella and Jérôme Hanover tackle the flowers used in Dior fragrances and skin care. A fourth co-author, Justine Picardie, writes about the role of flowers in Dior’s fashion collections.

The book also features a series of photographs by Nick Knight and includes archival documents and additional photography — all on the topic of Dior’s relationship with nature.

“The rose photographs, portraits really, by fashion photographer Nick Knight are stunning,” said Sachs. “The fact that each photograph was taken with an iPhone in his kitchen, of roses in his garden, is truly inspiring.”

Dior approached Sachs because the company wanted someone who could tie in the science — the physical and mental health benefits of nature — with its founder’s life. Sachs’s role was to explore how “biophilia,” our innate attraction to life and living things, played a crucial role in Christian Dior’s health and well-being.

“It was more challenging than I expected because I had to learn a lot about Dior and then interweave his biography and the science, without being overly academic,” Sachs said.

For Dior, Sachs learned, a connection with nature was essential. It was through the act of gardening that he felt closest to his mother, Madeleine. Working with her in her garden at Granville, and actually designing part of the garden (his first commission), was a way to be close.

Also, on a physical level, Dior himself was not athletic. Sachs found that he benefited from the Normandy air, sunlight and the exercise of gardening. Later in his life, nature always reminded him of that first home and his family.

“Dior was a sensual man, and gardens and flowers provided a rich and delightful sensory experience,” Sachs said. “His various country homes were absolutely critical for his well-being.”

What surprised Sachs most about Dior was that he was not well-suited to a fully urban life — or to the constant stress of working in the fashion industry. “He loved his work, but at the same time it drained him,” she said.

Dior chose to de-stress by surrounding himself with flowers in Paris and escaping to the French countryside whenever possible. Another revelation Sachs had was how powerful Dior’s sister Catherine was. The inspiration for the iconic “Miss Dior” perfume, Catherine joined the French Resistance against Nazi Germany and survived imprisonment in concentration and work camps. She later settled in Provence as a flower and grape producer.

“Her home in Callian was a big reason Dior bought the Chåteau de La Colle Noir property,” Sachs said. “The bond between Christian and Catherine was strong.”

Sachs calls her research “gratifying.” Since her writing is typically more academic, this was an opportunity to reach a broader audience. Everyone at Dior was “a joy to work with,” she added.

“Dior in Bloom” is available at rizzoliusa.com.

Co-author Naomi A. Sachs, Ph.D.

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