Christian Dior is now such a global brand it’s easy to forget that the company was named after a man, a French fashion designer to whom style was everything.

Annie Goetzinger’s biography picks up in 1947 with Dior finally able to place his own name above premises after his mother’s death. She’d considered it vulgar. He’s about to showcase his first solo designs to a celebrity-packed audience from home and abroad, where journalists are permitted to take notes, but not pictures. The collection is soon to become known as The New Look. We see it and the other attendees through the eyes of Clara Nohant, a fashion journalist on her first assignment. She’s fictional, but such are the well chosen words of her writing, Goetzinger convinces that she’s as authentic as the fashions so exquisitely rendered.

Goetzinger brings an immense elegance to the illustrations, reproducing Dior’s then groundbreaking designs and visually showing why some hope of style was of importance to a country recently invaded and still suffering the deprivation of rationing. Dior’s immediate global acceptance is validation that France still matters culturally, although that hasn’t quite trickled down to street level where food on the table is a greater concern.

Anyone who finds the world of fashion as mystifying as the workings of a carburettor or the offside law is given a lesson in why Dior’s name still resonates. He’s shown not only as a designer who values quality, but a stylist to whom no detail is too small to consider in a search for perfection, and that’s impressive. Goetzinger contrasts that by showing a life of relative simplicity, although in grand premises, as Dior considers a new collection. Dior is gradually formed in front of our eyes by those who know him, Goetzinger not starstruck and giving time and credit to employees as well as the famous. His style is something millions of women aspire to, yet he’s insecure enough to consult a fortune teller.

In terms of story and art, Goetzinger reflects her subject by achieving what seems an effortless grace, in her case a stylish blend of words and art, of fiction and reality, yet detailed biographical notes after the story show the research involved. There’s a timeline, notes on the names dropped, a calender of collections defining when and where they débuted, and listings of fabrics and fashion terms. There may be some disappointment about this not being a complete biography, but Clara’s fictional presence weaved into Dior just about to hit his peak has a specific resonance. Even readers with no interest in Dior or fashion in general should be captivated by Goetzinger’s skill and sheer timeless quality.