The Struggle Is Not Real…
No, this post is not sponsored by Dior, nor have I been paid to write it.
And actually, it has not much to do with Dior, the Company (although I must confess I love pretty much everything they do).
This is about me finding myself in awe. In awe and admiration for a man’s story, Monsieur Dior’s.
Growing up in France and spending time in Paris on the right bank where I grew up, I was bound to be familiar with Dior.
The second perfume that my grandmother offered me was Miss Dior. Their boutique Avenue Montaigne is dreamy to look at.
I have always been so impressed by this store that I never, to this day, set foot in it. The only time I had a glimpse at what it looked like was during one of Carrie Bradshaw’s shopping sprees in Paris on Sex and the City.
But let’s leave aside my feeling not worth entering the temple of couture.
This post is about genius, creativity, talent, forward-thinking, originality and drive.
All of which I discovered when visiting the childhood house of Christian Dior in Granville, in Normandy, France.
Creative Avant Gardist and Wealthy
Christian Dior was born to a wealthy family of entrepreneurs and industrialists.
Early in his life, he found in his mother and in his sister allies that will support his ideas and his vocation.
How lovely can that be! A man who lived a life well spent, supported, validated, acclaimed.
He didn’t have to struggle for money; he didn’t have to struggle for attention or for support. He was able to have a quiet personal life, although somehow hiding his homosexuality, but not negating it or repressing it- those were the days then.
He was a fine gourmet, spent his life tasting all the goodness that life had to offer him and then detoxing in French and Italian Spas – though he died pretty young in his early 50s from a heart attack.
What fascinates me in Dior’s story?
An artist and an innovator that can be recognized for his talents and his genius without having to carry the stigma of the misunderstood starving artist.
And this is very refreshing for me. I tend to swoon over the stories of all these artists, their hero’s journey of limitations and victories against obstacles and society’s judgment, think Van Gogh, Rembrandt or Kurt Schwitters.
Yet at a closer look, at the end of the spectrum, there are these innovators that brought their arts to popular recognition and ended up quite wealthy. Karl Lagarfeld, Picasso, Marcel Duchamps, Gauguin, and others.
I am not discounting the fact that these guys are a drop in the ocean of so many artists that have dedicated their lives to their art yet living a life of struggle and misery – the archetype of the starving artist.
What strikes me here is that yes, you can be an artist, an innovator and a genius and you can be popular and wealthy, you can have it all.
Some cards they drew at birth – and most of it opportunities and the challenges that made them victorious.
Look at Coco Chanel. She grew up in an orphanage, she had to overcome many odds, compromise with her values, and she got where she wanted to be. She liberated women from all sort of clothes that were making them look like prisoners behind the bars.
And this is an inspiration, a model that can be followed.
I have no idea what I would have done when presented with the same challenges and survival choices as Gabrielle Chanel. Some of her behaviors and choices are as far away from my values as can be. But this is my judgment today, through my eyes, with what I know of the history, in hindsight.
What I do know though, is that it doesn’t need to be difficult. Building a business, a career, a durable relationship with a partner, or friends and colleagues, can be joyful, if we choose it to be.
There is not much merit in overcoming mountains of struggles when these were only a belief we held: no pain, no gain, as they say.
I am not denying that there are challenges; these are part of the process and of the personal lesson and subsequent growth. But viewing them as an experience like many others, is what takes us to the next level.
Making things look easy actually transforms the whole experience. It increases our tolerance to frustration, making us more patient with the process, more collaborative with others.
And that’s one thing that I loved about Christian Dior’s life: he, like Yves Saint Laurent for example, surrounded themselves with a support system of loyal allies, people that could understand their genius and would take away anything that was distracting to them.
And as small businesses owner, we can learn a lot from these successful entrepreneurs.
One of my key takeaways from my visit to Mr. Dior’s childhood home is surrounding myself with beauty and peace.
I have always been very sensitive to my environment and a firm believer that my home, like my way of dressing myself, is a reflection on how I respect myself and my body.
Mr. Dior inherited from his mother a passion for roses. He designed a superb rose garden for their house in Granville. And roses will be a driving theme throughout his too short career.
Thank you, Monsieur Dior, for being an inspiration to drive, to action and to excellence.
Who inspired you recently?
The Dior Museum in Granville (France) – Granville is not far from the Mont Saint Michel, so you get to visit Normandy and Brittany during the trip.
Coco Before Chanel: one of the multiple movies on her life, Audrey Tautou carries the Chanel hat with brilliance.