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And what has followed has been nothing short of amazing. Dior Homme, in just three years time, has come to represent the evolution of menswear, as well as the evolution of men.

Hedi (pronounced "Eddie"), whose name means "wisdom" in Arabic, recently turned down a lucrative counterproposal from Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche to return to his previous position, in favor of continuing his stellar work for Dior. His new contract puts him in charge of the men's fragrance division, as well as the overall image of the label.

Hedi recently spoke with Fashionlines, and offered some insights into the direction he will now take the world of Dior Homme. As for perfume and accessories, Higher Energy has just been launched, and is well on its way to becoming one of the top 10 new fragrances. "I've just been looking at the image of Eau Savage", says Hedi, "and have collaborated with Inez Van Lansweerde. And we're working on lots of new things."

Marlene Dietrich was one of the first customers to buy of Eau Savage, the initial men's fragrance launched by Christian Dior nearly a half century ago, and the airy lightness of the scent has become the tradition of the House.

And then there is the series of Dior Homme boutique openings, each to be inspired by a new and different artist. "We're opening in New York and Tokyo with the participation of Carsten Holler and Ugo Rondinone", Hedi

told Fashionlines. "There are numerous things in the works, and now it is a question of affirming the presence of Dior Homme and of insuring a stronger distribution."

From a commercial standpoint, Sydney Toledano, President of Dior Couture, has repeatedly stated that the men's label has never seen so much success, and that he attributes it to both Hedi's design genius and his overall vision. The earnings of Christian Dior have been steadily climbing while other labels remain in a quagmire, unable to shake loose from the gloomy economic pit that has gripped the luxury apparel industry for the last two years.

Hedi's work for Dior Homme has heretofore been strongly influenced by a military motif, one that encapsulates the whole of the exquisite French tradition: from sharply-cut tailcoats in the style of Napoleon, to magnificent officer's coats with sleeves twirled with plumes, overcoats ornamented with leather epaulettes, and fancifully designed gold-braided suits.

But there is also in the mix, a heart-tugging image of a boy soldier raised from a long ago battle in a forgotten place, reincarnated into the here and now like a jolt of lightening. The "love-wound" shirts shown in the Red Collection of the Spring of 2002 were a case in point. Meant to hearken back to a passage of 19th Century author Rimbaud, one which describes a wounded soldier lying in a meadow, the shirts were shot full of sequined wounds that oozed a sensuality that is hard to capture, and even harder to adequately describe.