The name Dior is revered the world over: from Christian Dior’s iconic dress designs and fashion legacy to his sister Catherine, a resistance fighter awarded the Croix de Guerre and Legion of Honour, the family is nothing short of remarkable.
Much less is spoken about Françoise, Catherine and Christian’s niece who was a neo-Nazi and a socialite in post-war France. The family successfully distanced themselves from Françoise as her views gained more publicity, but their attempts to deny Françoise airtime in the press failed and she courted notoriety for a number of years.
So who exactly was the mysterious black sheep of the family, Françoise, and how did she stir up so much controversy?
Born in 1932, Françoise’s early childhood was largely defined by the Nazi occupation of France. Unlike many of her contemporaries who loathed the occupation, Françoise later described it as one of the ‘sweetest times’ of her life.
Her father Raymond, brother of Christian and Catherine, was a communist who embraced conspiracy theories and as a teenager, Françoise began to become invested in the theory that the French Revolution was in fact part of a global conspiracy by international elites who wanted to ruin France.
As a young woman, Françoise had a relatively close relationship with her uncle Christian: he reportedly made several dresses for her and acted as a quasi-father figure for periods of her life.
Aged 23, Françoise married Count Robert-Henri de Caumont-la-Force, a descendant of the royal family of Monaco, with whom she had a daughter, Christiane. The pair divorced not long after, in 1960.
In 1962, Françoise travelled to London with the aim of meeting the leaders of the National Socialist Movement there, particularly Colin Jordan, the head of the organisation. The group had been founded as a splinter group from the British National Party (BNP), who Jordan had criticised for its lack of openness surrounding its Nazi beliefs.
Over the subsequent years, she became a frequent visitor, developing a close friendship with Jordan. It was also around this time that she was introduced to Savitri Devi, an Axis spy in India and fascist sympathizer.
Using her connections and personal wealth, she helped establish the French chapter of the World Union of National Socialists (WUNS), heading up the national section herself. She achieved limited success: few high-ranking Nazis or members of her social circles wanted to join.
When the police discovered the existence of the Western European branch of the WUNS in 1964, its 42 members were quickly dissolved.
Françoise had known Colin Jordan for barely a year when she married him in 1963. The pair wed in a civil ceremony in Coventry which was heckled by protestors. They had a second ‘wedding’ at the headquarters of the National Socialist Movement in London where they cut their ring fingers and mingled their blood over a copy of Mein Kampf.
Unsurprisingly, photographs of the Nazi-orientated ceremony (with guests giving Nazi salutes) gained a huge amount of publicity and were widely printed in the press, despite the fact Françoise seemed to struggle to actually articulate her beliefs or what the NSM stood for.
It was at this point that Françoise’s family publicly distanced themselves from her: her mother said she would no longer let Françoise set foot in their home and her aunt, Catherine, spoke out against the coverage Françoise received, saying it detracted from the fame and skill of her brother Christian and ‘the honour and patriotism’ of other members of their family.
The pair’s turbulent marriage continued to make headlines. They split a few months later as Françoise publicly dismissed him as a ‘middle-class nobody’, implying she’d been blinded as to his true leadership skills and ability to hold the National Socialist Movement together. The pair reconciled, publicly, when Françoise claimed she was sure of her husband’s strength and skills as a leader.
Fall from power
Dior’s marriage to Jordan cemented her, briefly, at the top of the National Socialist Movement. She was heavily involved in arson campaigns and continued to maintain a relatively high profile in fascist and neo-Nazi movements across Europe. She was convicted in absentia in Paris for distributing neo-Nazi leaflets and imprisoned in Britain for inciting anti-Semitic violence.
During this time she began a new relationship with an NSM member, Terence Cooper. The pair eloped together and Colin Jordan divorced his wife on grounds of adultery after the affair came to light. They lived together in Normandy until 1980, and Cooper subsequently wrote a lurid tell-all about his time with Françoise in which he accused her of incest and implicating her in the untimely death of her daughter Christiane.
Françoise continued to use what remained of her fortune and social network to continue to participate and support anti-Semitic and Nazi movements, including the Front Uni Antisioniste, Rally for the Republic and remained a close friend of Savitri Devi. She also reportedly paid some of the legal expenses of fascists including Martin Webster.
An inglorious end
After a series of bad investments, Françoise’s fortune was largely lost and she was forced to sell her Normandy home. She married for the third time, this time to another aristocrat and ethnonationalist, Count Hubert de Mirleau.
Françoise died in 1993, aged 60, her name largely lost to history and her death barely reported in the newspapers. Today, she is but a mostly-forgotten footnote in the otherwise illustrious history of the Dior family.