Dior at NGV
The gallery gets a New Look this winter
WHY WOULD A French fashion house with outposts all over the world be celebrating its 70th anniversary at the bottom of the earth? Why would the National Gallery of Victoria give over space to a brand one can easily access on Collins Street, or Chadstone shopping centre? The August debut of House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture may seem counter-intuitive at first, but letting the NGV’S curators loose in the immaculate archives of Christian Dior was an act of surprising symmetry for the brand, and the country. The first time Christian Dior showed outside of Paris was in 1948, when David Jones brought 50 pieces of the designer’s spring collection to Australia. “So [the exhibition will be] looking at that, but also looking at all the different connections during that period,” says the exhibition’s curator, Katie Somerville. In the postwar period, Dior’s roadshows down under came complete with flocks of French mannequins (models), and the exhibition will feature video interviews with some of the women who toured Christian Dior’s final collection for the house in 1957. All of the designers who subsequently worked for the Maison will have their creations represented in the show. There’ll be pieces from the young Yves Saint Laurent, who took over the house after Monsieur Dior’s sudden death, right through to the brand’s current (and first female) creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri. Because this exhibition focuses explicitly on Dior’s haute couture creations, craftsmanship will be at the centre of the show – literally, they’ll be creating an atelier in the middle of the exhibit. “We really wanted to convey, as dynamically as possible, an immersive sense of what it is and where it is, that this incredible magic happens within the context of a couture house.” The garments made in the Christian Dior atelier often take hundreds of hours and dozens of skilled hands to assemble. This makes their price astronomical. A piece of haute couture nowadays costs tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Much like contemporary art, this means an exhibition is the only way your average human can cast their eyes on this rarefied craft. House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture, NGV International, 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne 3006. 03 8620 2222. www.ngv.vic.gov.au. Daily 10am-5pm. Free. Aug 27-Nov 7.
“Magic happens within the context of a couture house”
Ella Bond, Bela Palacio Hazewinkel and Maddison Lukes (L-R) at NGV International
Christian Dior models in the salon of House of Dior’s headquarters, 30 Avenue Montaigne, Paris, 1957