When thinking of luxury designer brands, both Chanel and Dior are often the first big names to pop into anyone’s head. These designer fashion houses both flourished around the same time, each receiving their greatest claims to fame following the Second World War. But actually Chanel vs Dior, which brand defines luxury?
Thanks to their common haunts in pop culture, we all know and love these brands. However, with all that these Parisian luxury brands have in common, they also have some stark differences that set them worlds apart.
So, let’s pit Chanel vs Dior, comparing their histories, products, brand images, prices, and more.
Chanel: A Brief History
The Chanel brand was founded in 1910 by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel in Paris, France. This early foundation places Chanel as one of the earliest Fashion Houses, second only to Gucci.
In her earliest years of business, Chanel ran a hat shop. There, she dressed French actresses in dramatically feathered and wide-brimmed hats.
By the 1920s, though, Chanel had become a major brand. Chanel launched their first perfume, makeup, and jewelry collections by the year 1930.
However, during the 1930s, Coco Chanel began developing patterns for a brand new type of dress: the flapper dress.
This loose-fitting garment was a rejection of corsets and ballgowns, and it gave women room to move, dance, and live as they wished.
In many ways, this dress captured everything that Coco Chanel believed in. Coco Chanel never gave up on her vision for her Fashion House, designing avant-garde women’s apparel, fragrances, jewelry, and bags with a woman’s comfort in mind.
Gabrielle Chanel literally revolutionized the fashion scene. In the modern day, all Chanel products and boutiques are owned by Chanel S.A., with Virginie Viard as the creative director. Still, behind all of the designs and products that Chanel produces is a spirit of triumphant womanhood, abstract art, comfort, and the natural silhouette.
These values immediately pitted Chanel vs Dior from the get-go.
Dior: A Brief History
After serving in WWII, Christian Dior began his career as a couture designer in 1946 in Paris, France. This timing is critical to note.
Dior’s designs were overly feminine, used tons of fabric, and were painstakingly detailed. These garments stood opposed to women’s fashion during WWII years.
During the war, clothing was rationed, and women often donned uniforms and masculine apparel as part of the workforce.
Dior’s designs, featuring structured corsetry, flouncy flower-like skirts, and cinched waists, were a true revolution to women all over the world.
Dior noted that, in designing this collection, he wanted to embrace femininity by structuring the bodice to look like a stem.
He flared out the skirt to look more like flower petals. Following Dior’s first collection, public magazines like Harper’s Bazaar gave Dior’s signature floral style the title “The New Look.” This “New Look” was supposed to be the new, cutting-edge fashion for all women in the Western World. Even Dior’s modern collections are indebted to the “New Look” fashion that Cristian Dior established in the 1950s.
Today, the Dior brand is owned by LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy), a large merger of some of the best luxury brands, including Tiffany &Co., Bulgari, Marc Jacobs, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Hennesy, Moët, and Givenchy. Maria Grazia Chiuri has served as the creative director of Dior since 2016.
Despite these changes in the current years, the overall message of Dior is floral, feminine, and bold.
Chanel vs Dior: Product Range Comparison
Now that we know about the history of these two brands, let’s pit Chanel vs Dior when it comes to their various products.
What do these brands have to offer, and how do they stack up against each other? Well, let’s find out!
When it comes to Dior vs Chanel bags, both brands offer a wide range of iconic designs. We couldn’t mention Dior without bringing up the Saddle Bag, a saddle-shaped bag that has become the iconic handbag for Dior.
However, Dior is also well-known for its Lady Dior bag, made from quilted leather. Each Lady Dior bag has interesting textural elements and large Dior-brand charms.
Another Dior showstopper is the Diorama bag, a leather flap bag with both a leather and chain handle and engraved geometric etching on the front flap.
This bag is comparable to the Chanel Classic Flap bag. Chanel is best known for its diamond quilted designs, as seen in the famous and iconic Chanel 2.55 and Chanel Classic Flap bag.
These bags, complete with a “signature” chain strap and a quilted leather body, have been Chanel’s bestsellers since the 1950s.
Both Chanel and Dior are winners here. Both of Chanel’s quilted bags and Dior’s Saddle Bag are instantly recognizable as symbols of each Fashion House.
Chanel vs Dior: Footwear
Comparing Chanel vs Dior footwear is tricky, as both luxury brands have equally iconic and coveted footwear. Keeping in touch with its comfort-first message, Chanel is best known for its ballet flats and pumps, both of which are known to be incredibly practical and comfortable.
Chanel often plays with texture and color in the design field, offering one pair of shoes that synthesizes two designs.
For example, Chanel’s iconic Mary Janes often combine shiny and matte leathers in two tones. On the other hand, Dior is a luxury brand that specializes in slingback heels, such as their J’Adior slingback heels and flats.
Unlike Chanel, Dior’s designs often feature black and white patterns or just matte black or white coloration.
Additionally, Dior has found great success with their sneakers in the fashion industry, offering comfortable high-fashion street footwear for men, women, and kids.
Chanel vs Dior: Apparel
Chanel and Dior are both well-known for their apparel, although their clothing styles couldn’t be more different.
If you’ve ever heard of the concept of the little black dress, you’re paying homage to Chanel, its inventor.
This black, comfortable dress, which has in many ways become a staple in every woman’s wardrobe, was made famous by Audrey Hepburn, who advertised it for Coco Chanel.
Chanel also popularized the loose-fitting women’s tweed suit, made famous by Jackie Kennedy. Dior, on the other hand, is where cinched waists, dramatic flower-like skirts, and structured bodices reign supreme.
At Dior, you’ll find elegant ballgowns and suits with full skirts and petticoats. However, at Dior, you’ll also find modern streetwear, which usually pays homage to the “New Look” by putting emphasis on cinched, high waists and detailed pattern work.
Chanel vs Dior: Jewelry
Chanel Fashion House is well known for pearls and large gold chains, which were popularized in the mid-century.
While Chanel ventures beyond its comfort zone with its jewelry collections, some common motifs you’ll find in Chanel jewelry are the number 5, Chanel’s signature diamond quilting pattern, feathers, flowers, stars, and bows.
When comparing Chanel v. Dior, Dior’s jewelry designs are far bolder. Dior often gravitates toward using floral motifs, hearkening back to the New Look’s emphasis on floral-looking skirts.
Collections like the Rose De Vents reinterpret roses, incorporating twisted growth patterns and thorns on their earrings, rings, and necklaces.
Dior Fashion House also incorporates more color, using enamel and gemstones to add more intrigue to its jewelry.
When considering Chanel versus Dior in the realm of perfumes, Chanel is queen. However, Dior has its own signature fragrances that have become staples in pop culture.
Chanel No. 5 needs no introduction, as it is one of the most famous perfumes in the world today. This perfume, launched in 1921 as the first Chanel perfume, generally sells at rates of 10 million bottles a year!
This perfume is famous for its non-floral scent, as it was one of the first feminine fragrances that did not use flowers as the main ingredients.
Instead, it has notes of vetiver, ylang-ylang, bergamot, lemon, orris root, and aldehydes. Still, Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle and Chance fragrances are incredibly popular among high-end fashion gurus.
On the other hand, Dior offers popular scents like J’adore, Miss Dior, and Sauvage, all of which put a heavy emphasis on floral scents.
J’adore, Dior’s most popular scent, offers notes of orange blossom, jasmine, and rose. Miss Dior, the second-best-seller, offers notes of lily of the valley, aromatic woods, and rose.
Quality and Craftsmanship
Both Chanel and Dior are well-known for their craftsmanship as haute couture brands. Most Chanel products are made in Europe, with all Haute Couture items being made in Paris, France.
Dior products are produced similarly. Dior’s ready-to-wear items are manufactured in France or Italy, and many of their other items are outsourced to countries depending on the type of item.
For example, all Dior jeans are manufactured in Japan, where indigo grows best. Dior watches are made in Switzerland, a country known well for its superior watches.
So, both Dior and Chanel have superior and commendable manufacturing procedures.
Brand Image and Perception
Chanel and Dior are both considered to be the absolute best of the best in the fashion world. While neither brand is better when it comes to brand image, each brand presents itself in a very specific and unique way.
Dior is all about boldness, florals, and elegance. With its structured garments, floral perfumes and jewelry designs, and colorful patterns, Dior items are made to stand out.
On the other hand, Chanel’s color palette is much more black-and-white, favoring neutral colors. Chanel garments are also far less tailored than Dior’s.
Chanel remains true to Coco Chanel’s original vision of her apparel and accessories as comfortable above all else.
Chanel also creates exclusivity in their brand by encouraging their customers to come into a local store. Many of their items are not available online, and even when they are, you have to call in to learn more about the prices.
So, Dior is all about standing out in style, while Chanel is about embracing natural comfort and exclusivity.
While both Chanel and Dior are luxury couture brands that come with a hefty price tag, Chanel’s products are far more exclusive and expensive.
Still, these names are so big in the fashion world that many people are willing to pay Chanel’s inflated prices.
It’s worth noting that the prices fluctuate very quickly, especially when it comes to Chanel’s staple items, such as their Classic bag.
That price fluctuation is generally due to the cost of materials and labor. However, let’s compare the average price of a Chanel Classic handbag to Dior’s iconic Saddle Bag.
The Classic Chanel bag is valued at a price of between $8,000 to $10,000. On the other hand, the Dior Saddle Bag retails at only $4,300.
Across the board, Dior bags are all less expensive than Chanel bags as well. While those prices are nothing to scoff at, for similarly well-known and iconic bags of about the same size, that price difference is massive.
Even when compared to other luxury brands such as Prada, Chanel’s prices come out on top.
While both Chanel and Dior have their fair share of celebrity employees, spokespeople, and endorsements, Dior generally has the biggest celebrity names behind their campaigns.
Rihanna was named as the celebrity spokesperson for Dior in 2015. Other names such as Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence, Natalie Portman, Chris Hemsworth, Mick Jagger, Mila Kunis, Robert Pattinson, Johnny Depp, and Brad Pitt are all associated with Dior’s campaigns and products.
When comparing Chanel vs Dior, Chanel offers more exclusive, comfort-oriented pieces at a higher price. On the other hand, Dior offers more readily available pieces focused on elegance, structure, and silhouette.