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Then there are bees and griffins that fly about and light on shirts, ties and even underwear. Those two images were particular favorites of Napoleon, and often used in his private residences, say the Château de Rambouillet, as symbols of his reign. At Dior Homme, there is always a link from the timelessness of past tradition to the sleekness of present day modernity.

Interestingly, the most noticeable characteristic of the label is the force of youth - be that in low riding trousers, chains and leather, or the street smart and spiky elegance that permeates each collection. These clothes are made for the here and now, for a new and intense generation.

Times change, and motion by its definition takes us ever further, and so the next step of Dior Homme may well include other ideas, other inspirations. "Change is the very word that defines fashion," says Hedi. "But I work from a wardrobe that is unidentifiable, and recurrent. It's really more an idea of style that must be clarified."

That style, the one that has captured Hollywood and the fashion elite, is closely linked to the changing precepts of masculine allure. Men have suddenly found themselves increasingly liberated, especially with the rise of Metrosexuals, those heterosexual men with an affinity for fine fashion, food and culture, and with a younger generation that seems to feel that sexuality is no longer defined by a series of repressive codes. It's not surprising then that men's cosmetics are being launched at increasing frequency, while department stores are giving over more and more space to the style-conscious male.

Dior Homme came at a particular moment that filled an enormous void.

"I have no particular inspiration," explains Hedi. "I work in a very intuitive manner, with a form of commitment that consists of defending an idea within men's fashion - one specifically Parisian."

Hedi's atelier is organized along the lines of haute couture, with a premier, and then a bevy of assistants who do everything from cut patterns to develop new fabrics. And the result is a quality of workmanship that rivals the famed couture ateliers of both Dior and Chanel.

Elton John seized on that idea backstage at the Dior Homme show in January of 2003. "It's not until you get up close that you can really appreciate these clothes," he said. "I've never seen such a passion for detail in anyone since Gianni Versace."

Yet, perhaps the most telling sign is the continuing presence of the world's most polished couturier, Karl Largerfeld. Karl is front row at each Dior Homme show, and then backstage to give press interviews. He wears at least one piece of Hedi's work in every public appearance, which included a Dior Homme lurex suit for the Spring / Summer 2004 show of Lagerfeld Gallery earlier this month, and then a silk tailcoat for Chanel the next day.

Then again, elegance is Karl Lagerfeld's middle name.