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Women's Fashion / Vintage Style

Jorn Langberg: The Dane at Dior

In this column, AnOther takes a retrospective look at the style icons of the past

Outfits from the Christian Dior 'London' Collection for Autumn, 1969
Outfits from the Christian Dior 'London' Collection for Autumn, 1969

Following his death earlier this month, we remember a fashion great who revitalised a French fashion house with London style

This month saw the passing of Jorn Langberg. The name is unfamiliar to most, but he was the man behind many of Dior’s flamboyant London collections throughout the 1960s and 70s, and created Diorling, a ready-to-wear boutique range designed for the ‘working girl’, redefining fashion in the process.

Nicknamed by the media as "The Dane at Dior", Danish-born Langberg was tall and lean with an impeccable personal style. He had a jovial, upbeat nature, a rarity within 1960s couture, and was the silent dresser of the debutante, approving the style of Britt Ekland, Princess Margaret and Princess Alexandra amongst many others.

“I like new things, and in fashion something new happens every six months” — Jorn Langberg

Langberg originally studied economics before moving to Central Saint Martins, and kept an air of mathematical, business acumen throughout his tenure. He joined the house of Dior in 1965 and was appointed director of Christian Dior, London within a year. “I like to make women feel pretty and feminine. I’m not really a trouser man,” he stated in 1972, “anything to make them irresistible.” While Christian Dior birthed the New Look, Langberg curved it to cater for a new mood that was emerging in London at the turn of the decade. His collections pioneered calf-length hemlines, created in bright organza, silk gazar and fluttering, embroidered pleats, which he teamed with thick cuffs, pierrot collars and headscarves.

White floral organza evening dress worn by Marion Cameron, designed by Jorn Langberg
White floral organza evening dress worn by Marion Cameron, designed by Jorn Langberg
Outside of fashion, Langberg enjoyed nature, living between London and his cottage in Balmoral. In later years, he developed a passion for horticulture, becoming known for his gardens as much as his achievements in fashion, although he never got his hands dirty: "I'm a designer, not a workman." His houses were the backdrop for infamous parties, but also a place of refuge for the many friends he made over the years. He enjoyed a consistent thirst for travel and discovery, which stayed with him until the end. “I like new things,” he once said, “and in fashion something new happens every six months.”

Text by Mhairi Graham

Mhairi Graham is fashion writer at AnOther and AnOthermag.com. She also writes for The Financial Times and Wallpaper* and came runner-up in the 2011 Vogue Talent Contest.

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