Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Majesty of Christian Dior, 70 Years of Style

From now through January 7, 2018 the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, is paying tribute to the seventieth anniversary of the most famous name in fashion, Christian Dior with a grandiose exhibition entitled,  “Christian Dior, Designer of Dreams.” Well conceived, meticulously organized and incredibly executed, this exhibition is a 3,000 square meter artistic voyage of pure visual delight and discovery. Though Mr. Dior was only present for the first 10 years of his namesake fashion house, his work as couturier and businessmen as well as contributions made by the designers who succeeded him paint a picture of the enduring legacy and evolution of France’s number one temple of style. Some 300 haute couture garments  surrounded by handbags, shoes, bags, perfume bottles, photographs, paintings, illustrations (by Rene Gruau and Mats Gufstasen), along with documents, letters, sketches, print ads, fashion show video clips spread over 3000 square feet is more than enough to plunge the visitor into a luxurious fantasyland that is quintessentially…..Dior.

The exhibition begins with an introduction to the man behind the name. We learned Christian Dior came from an aristocratic family and was inspired by the wardrobe of his fashionably dressed mother. His professional career saw him first, working in an art gallery before turning to the world of style.

Over the years, there were key elements evident in each collection. Inspiration was drawn from the austere chic of Paris, the Gardens of his native town Grandville, Dior’s fascination for the 18th century French aristocracy, a love of nature, the world of fine art, exotic lands and…the elegance and lavishness of Versailles.

Paintings, period furniture and objet d’art are used as a setting to convey the couturier’s aesthetics, culture and inspiration. As to be expected, there are plenty of full size garments—from the New Look suit to the embroidered Junon gown with its sequined petals-- each one more beautiful than the other. But to my surprise and delight, the exhibition also includes an extensive part of “Le Peit Theatre de Dior”—one-third scale versions of many of Dior’s dresses and suits.

Inasmuch as we were allowed to take as many photos as desired, me and the girls are treating all of you to a personal tour as seen through 100 pictures. There is so much to show you, I have divided our tour into two (very long) sections. In this the first part, the focus is placed on the full scale work of Dior and the designers who followed him. This will be followed by more photos showing the 1/3 scale dresses as well as the last, most elaborate theme, “Versailles,” a befitting finale.

What I saw was beyond words, so I promise to keep my text to a minimum and simply let the photos speak for themselves. Enjoy!
The New Look that launched Christian Dior in 1947

It all starts here…The New Look. New Look Spring-Summer collection in 1947, Christian Dior took the feminine shape in a totally new direction, relegating the masculine silhouette of the war years to the past. His dresses expressed a modern femininity, incarnated by his flower-woman and producing a shape characterized by flowing curves.
Raf Simon's modern take on the New Look Silhouette

Side by side, one garment for every year Christian Dior has been in business. In a glimpse we can see how silhouettes have evolved from the end of WWII thru today’s styles.

The “Dior Garden,” a lavish theme of floral dresses, gowns with intricate embroidery or even hand cut petals are surrounded by laser cut flowers that drop from the ceilings and spring from the floor. For the theme, Versailles, the nave of the museum was bathed in lights, providing the illusion of attending a most magnificent ball within interiors of the Chateau.

Including Dior, the legacy of the house has been in the hands of seven couturiers: Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferre, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Tchuri (the current designer). This section takes a peak at each one’s contributions.

We begin with the creations of Mr. Dior

After his death, a young Yves St. Laurent succeeded Dior.

Marc Bohan was the next designer in line as designer for Dior

The work of Gianfranco Ferre, the Italian designer at the helm of Dior

Enter, Englishman, John Galliano

Raf Simons followed Galliano and was eventually replaced by the current designer, Maria Grazia Chiuri

But before a dress becomes a dress, it is a toile.

“The Atelier” provides an unusual glimpse of the work that goes on in the couture house’s atelier. These white cotton dresses are draped embryos, which after much adjustment, consultation and decisions on color, fabric and embellishments, ultimately blooms into the finished garment we see fluttering down the catwalk.

End of Part I. Stay tuned...there's more! Up next: Dior in miniature. And, the girls to to a ball at Versailles! Dior's ball at Chateau Vesailles!!

All photos and text property of Fashion Doll Stylist 2017. Please do not reproduce without prior permission. Thank you.

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  1. Your creations are brilliant. I'm impressed.

    1. Thank you so much, Dlubaniny. With this post, you have an idea where my inspiration came from!

  2. This exhibition is very impressive! The clothes are fabulous and displayed so attractive!
    The white prototypes are amazing to see. I used to go to the fashion shows of the students of the fashion department in Antwerp and was always impressed by the designs made of white fabrics of the lower year students :-).
    I love the fashions you made, the black dress and the short flower print dress are so lovely! A fantastic post as always :-).

    1. Thank you M&F. This was one of the most impressive fashion exhibitions I've ever seen. The clothes were, of course, beautiful, but the set designs were amazing. Shows you what one can do when money is no object and you can hire the best set designers in the world. The room with the prototypes took my breath away. Everything was beautiful in white! Most fashion schools, the students work with a lesser attractive, yellowish muslin. Our toiles weren't nearly as pretty.

  3. I love Dior's outfits. They spectacular. I especially like the black dress with ecru jacket. It was the inspiration for Claire's Fraser costume in Outlander. :)

    Your versions are beautiful, as always! :)

    1. Thank you Kamelia. While I haven't loved a lot from their recent seasons, Dior remains a favorite of mine. For this retrospective, the house did a great job at selecting the very best from each of its past 70 years. And, everything looked brand new!

  4. Simply amazing and so wonderful that taking photos is allowed.

    Many thanks for sharing.

    1. You are so right. Normally photos are forbidden. But what a surprise to discover I could take so many photos! This is a show I want to remember and will probably refer back to for ideas for future posts!

  5. This article is so awesome! I love it! Thats pretty cool you were there! Can't wait to see the christmastime post w/ the girls!

  6. Wystawa jest przepiękna! To niezwykłe, wspaniałe Królestwo Mody! Zachwycające modele! Super zdjęcia! Czekam na kolejną część :-)

  7. I'm watching a special right now about Dior! Called "Inside Dior"! :)


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