The newly opened Dior ret­ro­spec­tive in Mel­bourne is the ul­ti­mate high-end ex­cuse for a fash­ion get­away

Fashion Quarterly - - Beauty News -

In a coup for Aus­tralia’s fash­ion cap­i­tal, a part­ner­ship be­tween the house of Dior and the Na­tional Gallery of Vic­to­ria has seen never-viewed-be­fore ex­hi­bi­tion The House of Dior: Sev­enty Years of Haute Cou­ture ar­rive in Mel­bourne. With gar­ments and archival ma­te­rial span­ning the French la­bel’s 70-year his­tory, it’s a once-in-a-life­time op­por­tu­nity to get up close and per­sonal with one of the most pres­ti­gious names in fash­ion — and dis­cover the best of Mel­bourne while you’re at it. Thanks to Qan­tas, it’s never been eas­ier to get there.


Launch­ing his de­but spring/sum­mer col­lec­tion in Feb­ru­ary 1947, Nor­mandy-born Chris­tian Dior in­tro­duced a rad­i­cal new post-war sil­hou­ette that de­lighted and in some cases shocked the pub­lic. With tightly boned bodices, padded hips and full skirts cre­ated us­ing many yards of fab­ric, the

‘New Look’ col­lec­tion re­turned fem­i­nin­ity and lux­ury to fash­ion af­ter the prac­ti­cal and cost-e€cient slim lines of wartime style.

Through the 1950s, Dior’s haute cou­ture gowns were worn by film stars and roy­alty, and he ex­panded into per­fume, shoes and jew­ellery. Un­til his death in 1957 at the age of 52, Dior drove what’s con­sid­ered the re­nais­sance of French cou­ture and ce­mented the house as one of the world’s most in­flu­en­tial fash­ion la­bels.

Draw­ing pri­mar­ily on ma­te­rial from the House of Dior ar­chive in Paris and the Na­tional Gallery’s Col­lec­tion, The House of

Dior is a sump­tu­ous dis­play of more than 140 gar­ments from Chris­tian Dior Cou­ture dat­ing from 1947 to 2017, as well as ac­ces­sories, sketches, pho­to­graphs, haute cou­ture toiles, mul­ti­me­dia and archival ma­te­rial. You’ll see ex­am­ples from the ‘New Look’ col­lec­tion, grand dis­plays of Dior’s sig­na­ture ball gowns and rare pho­to­graphs o’er­ing a glimpse into the de­signer’s life. Fol­low the gowns through the house’s his­tory as they morph in the hands of modern Dior de­sign­ers — from Gian­franco Ferré to John Gal­liano and Raf Si­mons, and now the House’s first fe­male head de­signer, Maria Grazia Chi­uri.


Lo­cated on the ter­race over­look­ing the Yarra River is Ital­ian trat­to­ria Fatto. Right next to the Na­tional Gallery, it’s the ideal spot for a long lunch af­ter a morn­ing sub­merged in cou­ture. A Mel­bourne in­sti­tu­tion, Fatto’s fa­mous for its hand­made pasta and bowl-like glasses of red wine.

For din­ner, head down Flin­ders Lane to Kisumé. A con­tem­po­rary Ja­panese ex­pe­ri­ence, the at­ten­tion to de­tail here is im­pec­ca­ble. Split across three lev­els, the sushi bar and restau­rant oc­cupy the ground floor and base­ment, while Kuro Kisumé on the first floor of­fers a kaiseki (Ja­panese de­gus­ta­tion) like no other.

Hip new bar Ar­lechin is the place to visit for a late-night tip­ple. Tucked be­hind Grossi Florentino on Mor­nane Place, the mis­chievous lit­tle joint does cre­ative cock­tails and, if you need them, de­li­cious mid­night snacks.

Next morn­ing, Higher Ground is a must for ex­cep­tional break­fasts in a beau­ti­fully reimag­ined in­dus­trial space on Lit­tle Bourke Street.


QT Ho­tel is a ho­tel, sure, but it’s also an ar­ti­san play­ground of unique fur­ni­ture, colour­ful light­ing and quirky cu­riosi­ties. In­side, Pas­cale Bar & Grill pays homage to the city’s Euro­pean in­flu­ence, Hot Sauce Laneway Bar of­fers Asian street food with a gourmet slant, and if you’re in need of a sweet treat, The Cake Shop will more than suf­fice. qtho­tel­san­dresorts.com

If you’re up for a lit­tle ad­ven­ture, try St Jerome’s. Lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tion meets the great out­doors, this is glamp­ing in the heart of the city. Perched on a rooftop, it’s home to 21 pre­mium can­vas tents, with all the trim­mings of a lav­ish ho­tel. Fall asleep un­der the stars and wake to a 360-de­gree view, with added ex­tras such as a rooftop bar, an infrared sauna and your own chilly bin stocked with com­pli­men­tary beer and cider. stjeromes­the­ho­tel.com.au


If a cou­ture ex­hi­bi­tion doesn’t in­spire you to shop, we don’t know what will! Hap­pily, just eight min­utes from the gallery are the lux­ury la­bels of Collins Street, with most of high fash­ion’s main play­ers dot­ted along this her­itage strip, in­clud­ing Dior. If you’re af­ter some­thing with an edge, multi-de­signer bou­tique Marais (across the road and down a bit) stocks the lat­est from Givenchy, Rick Owens, Off-White and more.

For an in­jec­tion of high-end streetwear

(and a deca­dent nib­ble or two) head into the new St Collins Lane. There you’ll find Zadig & Voltaire, The Kooples and San­dro Paris, among oth­ers, plus cham­pagne and high­tea lounge, Runya’s Room.


With 42 Boe­ing 737-800 ser­vices be­tween Auck­land and Mel­bourne each week, as well as di­rect ser­vices from Welling­ton and Christchurch, Qan­tas is the best way to fly. Sip a glass of bou­tique wine from the col­lec­tion chosen by Rock­pool som­me­liers and get your fash­ion-filled Mel­bourne mini-break started mid-air. The House of Dior: Sev­enty Years of Haute Cou­ture is open at the Na­tional Gallery of Vic­to­ria, 180 St Kilda Road, Mel­bourne from Au­gust 27 to Novem­ber 7.

This page, clock­wise from top left: Chris­tian Dior haute cou­ture by Raf Si­mons, 2012; Chris­tian Dior haute cou­ture by John Gal­liano, 2011; Chris­tian Dior haute cou­ture by John Gal­liano, 2009; in­side the ate­liers of the House of Dior, 2012. Op­po­site:...

Clock­wise from cen­tre left: Break­fast at Higher Ground; cock­tails at Ar­lechin; glamp­ing at St Jerome’s; it’s all about you in Qan­tas Busi­ness Class, with lux­ury leather seats de­signed by Marc New­son; Chris­tian Dior beret, $1250, bag, $4600, and...

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