Marc Bohan, the longest-serving creative director at Christian Dior, who spent nearly 30 years spinning out classically attuned looks with a touch of whimsy that, however resplendent, were meant to be worn, not gazed at on mannequins or in fashion magazines, died on Wednesday in Châtillon-sur-Seine, France. He was 97.
His death was confirmed in a statement by Dior.
Because he worked in an era before fashion became mass entertainment, Mr. Bohan was not required to be visionary. And surviving for decades at the upper reaches of the fickle fashion world, with its unceasing scrutiny, merciless critics and head-spinning fashion cycles, he showed little interest in coming up with grandiose couture creations that functioned more as sculpture than practical apparel, no matter how sumptuous or bejeweled his own work was.
“I’m not designing to please myself or for a photograph,” he told USA Today for a 1988 profile. “I am designing for a woman who wants to look her best. I have always in mind the reaction of women I know.”
Courtly, taciturn and immaculately dapper even by the standards of midcentury Paris, Mr. Bohan was 34 when he was appointed head couturier for the House of Dior in 1960, taking over for the maverick Yves Saint Laurent. Mr. Saint Laurent, then in his early 20s, had been called up by the French Army during the Algerian war for independence.