An Interview with Couture Designer Yorn Michaelsen

by Alice White Walker

As a young boy arriving in Paris from Germany, Yorn Michaelsen had the incredible good fortune to meet Monsieur Christian Dior! At the mere age of 18, Yorn was hired by him as a designer and so his life changed forever. A close friend for several years, our Editor Sharon Santoni sits down to chat with Yorn in her garden in Normandy.

They talk about working for Dior, his relationship with Yves Saint Laurent, life inside the couture house and much more.

The video is quite long, and if you don’t want to listen to it all in one go, here are pointers for finding the highlights. We hope you enjoy this very special insight into the world of Parisian Haute Couture.

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)!

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