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)!