MFCH Table Talks: Yorn Michaelsen and Christian Dior

by ally redmond

man in white fixing a model's jacket

Today I am sharing something, or rather someone, very special with you.      It’s unusual for me to get personal here, but Yorn Michaelsen is one of my dearest friends.  We met many years ago when one of my dogs ran away, and the two of them met in the forest.  Yorn put the pup into his car and brought him down to the village store, who dialed my number “I think we have your dog here”.  I turned up to find a tall gentleman with my dog on the end of a makeshift lead.  We chatted for a couple of minutes and I was immediately smitten.   By chance we met again a few weeks later, there ensued a couple of mutual invitations to dinner and the rest, as they say, is history.

 

I’m thrilled to launch the first visual “MFCH Table Talk” in the company of Yorn.   He has a fascinating story to tell, as he arrived in Paris from Germany at the age of 18 and was immediately hired by Monsieur Christian Dior.  Born Jürgen Michaelsen in Bremen in 1935, it was Christian Dior himself who gave him the moniker he would come to use his whole career – Yorn (far easier for French people to pronounce!). After working in the house of Dior, he went on to found his own label on Paris’s prestigious Champs-Élysées.

Since his start with Dior he has enjoyed a long and successful life in Paris, Provence and near me here in Normandy.   During confinement, his first book was released, and he used the confinement to present the contents of the book via video to his German speaking audience.  You can find his book here, and his video presentation here.  I don’t know many 85 years olds who publish their first book, and even fewer who use their confinement to film themselves and create a video presentation for the book release!  I am so proud of him!

I sat down with Yorn for this interview in my garden.   Technically it is not perfect, and for that I apologise.  Yorn however is totally perfect, and I really hope that you enjoy listening to his tales of working for Dior, designing alongside Yves Saint Laurent, and consequently setting up his own couture house.

The video is very long.   I  know that you might not want to watch it all, so below you’ll find markers in case you want to fast forward to listen to specific moments.

Thank you to Yorn for accepting the interview, and thank you to you, my readers, for making him welcome.  I hope you enjoy our chat.

 

Start – 1:15: Introduction to Yorn.

1:30 – 2:00: Dior’s love of gardens, brief background on his origins.

2:00 – 6:00: What brought Yorn to Paris at age 18 (1956) and his experience seeing Dior’s collection for the first time Avenue  Montaigne.

6:00 – 9:30: Fashion shows – how they were then versus now – and how Dior showings were in particular.

9:30 – 13:20: How Yorn got his start and how his career progressed.

13:30 – 18:00: The working atmosphere in the Dior house day to day and how Christian Dior was as a businessman, as a boss and as a person, businessman. Also touches on designers that worked there and went on to success.

18:00 – 22:30: What was Yorn’s exact job and the story of his first design that was picked for the Dior collection, as well as his first fitting.

22:30 – 25:00: Description of the Dior mannequins (“models”).

25:00 – 30:45: A story about a cake Yorn gave Dior and other charming Dior anecdotes.

30:45 – 30:35: Yves Saint Laurent – what it was like working with him and him and Yorn’s personal dynamic.

30:35 – 38:00: Dior’s passing.

38:00 – 43:20: Yorn’s career progression post-Dior, as a freelance designer and his first couture house and collection on Champs-Elysées (1962)

43:20 – Fin: Yorn’s book, filled with memoirs and scenes of his life – you can purchase it here (note it’s in German)!

 

man on floor with cigarette sketching model

man and woman leaning outside window in front of arc de triumph

17 comments

Harlene September 20, 2020 - 5:20 pm

Thank you for sharing I love a good story and everyone has one I especially was interested because I like Everything Dior

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Elria Ellis September 20, 2020 - 6:26 pm

Ah Sharon! What a delightful way to pass a Sunday afternoon, watching this delightful video! I love the setting and the company, as well as the way in which you played the role of interviewer: gentle nudges steerIng the conversation. What a joy to see your enterprise going from strength to strength. You are an inspiration!

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Theresa September 20, 2020 - 6:41 pm

What a special treat to listen to this fascinating interview. I enjoyed every minute and would love to hear even more.

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Mary Lee Fedenko September 20, 2020 - 7:09 pm

I just watched your interview with Yorn Michaelsen it was so informative & I felt like I was there enjoying the conversation with you. Thank You for letting us in to your beautiful garden if only for a short time, with such a talented gentleman.

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david terry September 21, 2020 - 1:13 am

Dear sharon, this was delightful (in a word). Thank you so much…….and who’s in such a hurry these days that they can’t watch the whole thinig? I just did.,,,,,which was a lovely treat on this chilly Fall afternoon, far from France.
sincerely,

David Terry

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Sharon L Lundahl September 21, 2020 - 4:19 am

What a charming man. Thank you so much for sharing your conversation with him.

Sharon Lundahl

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Donna De Luca September 21, 2020 - 7:30 am

Dear Sharon

What a delightful, charming, talented and interesting guest..Yorn Michaelsen has been. I so enjoyed hearing about those early days of the Christian Dior salon in my beloved Paris. I found so many of his stories absolutely fascinating. What an interesting and creative life he has lived and I hope I can look as young as he does when I reach 85!

Kindest regards & Merci!

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Lesley McLellan September 21, 2020 - 12:30 pm

I wanted more ! What a charming gentle interview this is with such a divine gentleman
I smiled and laughed and am now utterly inspired by both of you.
Thank you for enriching my soul.
Merci mille fois
Lesley

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Jane Hennerty September 21, 2020 - 8:13 pm

I’ve just been reading a book about Christian Dior, and your conversation with Yorn has made it even more wonderful, thank you!

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barbara G September 21, 2020 - 8:14 pm

That was devine! I didn’t intend to listen to the whole thing, but after the first five minutes, I poured myself a coffee and sat down to enjoy the video from start to finish! Merci, merci, merci

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Steven September 22, 2020 - 1:07 am

Wonderful! Lucky you – thank you for sharing your friend. What a life!

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Mary Ann Falciani September 22, 2020 - 3:20 am

What a charming interview. He was so delightful to listen to and to learn about his fascinating life. Thank you for sharing this, I
learned so much.

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Kathryn Gauci September 22, 2020 - 9:25 am

Absolutely loved this. What a beautiful man and so generous in sharing his experiences. Having a textile background, I was hanging on to every word. The workings of a couture house intrigues me. Thank you. – And loved the birdsong too.

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Sara Langley De Costa September 22, 2020 - 11:33 pm

Thank you! What a joy to be part of. I felt as if I were sitting in the garden with you both listening to stories as I did as a child. Where are all the story tellers? Thank you for bringing such a one to our attention!! What a marvelous life…what a marvelous inspiration!! Bless you both! Sara

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Julie September 25, 2020 - 12:35 am

Loved this video! Yorn Michaelsen was so interesting and I loved learning how the fashion houses worked. FYI, I purchased a copy of Yorn’s book and one on Dior as well.

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Janice Baker September 25, 2020 - 7:52 am

Dearest Sharon, a millions ‘thank you s’ to you for interviewing Yorn. I have absolutely loved listening to his time with Christian Dior, such a privilege to hear exactly how the fashion house was during his time there. It is like opening a tiny window for us to see into that very divine world of Haute Couture . Please thank Yorn very much for the interview, so charming and interesting, no wonder you two are good friends. The bird song and the garden setting was divine, absolutely transporting us to heaven.
Sending you and Yorn the kindest regards from Sydney Australia. Janice xxxxxx

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Emm September 25, 2020 - 8:05 am

What a wonderful, amazing life. Thank you both for sharing with us. Merci.
The expression, though, on the model in the first photo — I want to do a caption contest. LOL

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