Decades of DIOR
From the namesake founder’s first creation to Maria Grazia Chiuri's current collection, the Musée des Arts Décoratif’sChristian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition showcases the best of Dior across decades.
“Deep in every heart slumbers a dream and the couturier knows it: every woman is a princess.” That dream was brought to life by Christian Dior, one of the world’s most iconic names, synonymous with Parisian haute couture. In honour of its 70th anniversary, the French fashion label decided to let the world step into its diverse and complex universe by taking over Musée des Arts Décoratifs for a retrospective that is said to be the museum's largest ever fashion exhibition, offering a window into the legacy of Dior, and its importance in the world of fashion and culture.
Meticulously organised by its co-curators, Olivier Gabet, director of the museum, and Florence Müller, fashion historian and curator of textile art and fashion at the Denver Art Museum, the Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition is spread throughout both wings of the museum, taking over 3,000 square meters of exhibition space.
An exhibition in honour of the brand’s 70th anniversary isn’t all that surprising; after all, Christian Dior himself owned an art gallery before opening his fashion house and had a particular passion for collecting Art Nouveau objects, as well as 18th-century interior design. In homage to this, archival collections shown in the exhibition will be paired with a selection of paintings, sculptures, and objets d’art that compliment the clothes and illuminate the designer’s passions and inspirations. Many of the items are from the Dior Héritage archives, while others are on loan from prestigious institutions including the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent and the Palais Galliera in Paris.
The exhibition, which runs till 7 January 2018, opens with the beginnings of the Dior adventure, and stories from Christian Dior’s life as a founder as well as his previous career as a gallery owner, and details on how his passion for art influenced his designs, incorporating references to art, from paintings, sculptures and china to furnishing fabrics. Throughout the exhibition, these objets d’art illustrate the couturier’s passions and sources of inspiration, guiding visitors through the designer’s career from its start, all the way to the
his six successors who have followed in his footsteps, and the importance of each one’s contribution to the House’s vision, from the daring Yves Saint Laurent, the rational Marc Bohan, the flamboyant Gianfranco Ferré, the dramatic John Galliano, the minimalist Raf Simons and the current reign of the feminist Maria Grazia Chiuri.
Images created by the leading photographers of the period illustrates a selection of all six of the heir’s most iconic creations, each designer casting their individual creative touch in recasting the founder’s stylistic vision. The exhibition also honours creative directors Serge Lutens, Tyen and Peter Philips for Dior Beauty, as well as François Demachy, the House’s exclusive perfume-creator.
In order to give visitors an insight into the secret world of the House’s ateliers, working documents, such as mock-ups of garments and sketches are propped beautifully at sections of the exhibition. Amongst the iconic pieces displayed were the Bar suit, the Maxim’s cocktail out t, the Plaza dress, the Soirée de Paris evening gown, the gold-embroidered dresses created for the J’Adore campaigns, dresses made for Princess Margaret and Princess Diana, as well as many other creations that have made a lasting impact on the red carpet galas and premieres around the world.
The exhibition also highlights Dior’s well-known partnerships, including those with Stephen Jones for hats, Roger Vivier for shoes, René Gruau and Mats Gustafson for illustrations, and Swarovski for certain jewellery pieces and embroideries. For those who want to view an indept look at the House’s accessories, a visit to the ‘Colorama,’ an exhibition within the exhibition, offers a panorama of all of Dior’s accessories, notably jewellery pieces crafted using the Aurora Borealis stone.
A breathtaking way to tell the story of the evolution of the house, the Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition perfectly conveys an enduring adherence to the founder’s vision, who wanted to “make women not only more beautiful, but happier.” And now, decades later, that weaving of dreams continues under the creative leadership of Maria Grazia Chiuri, keeping the dream of haute couture alive and making that dream a reality for countless of women.