Well where to begin…. in a nutshell this is an epic blockbuster of a show, on a par with Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty at the V&A. It is huge – 32,000 square feet – and tells the story of the fashion brand over 70 years, starting in 1947.
Housed in the stunning Musée des Arts Décoratifs at the Louvre, we are treated to snippets of Christian Dior’s early life, including various mementoes, family letters and childhood photos. From there we are taken on a journey of art and culture – who knew that Dior, a lover and collector of art, started life as a gallerist, working with young artists of the time Calder, Giacometti, Man Ray and Salvador Dali?
The show introduces the ‘New Look’ fashion chapter that launched Dior post WW2. Marking a return to femininity, the New Look embraced slender waspish waists and hourglass silhouettes, playing with length and volume whilst enhancing the legs, hips and bust.
“The return to an ideal of civilised happiness….”Christian Dior describing his post WW2 New Look revolution
A series of colourama rooms feature a mind blowing display of ballgowns, dresses, jackets, lipsticks, brooches, shoes, hats, perfume bottles, accessories, all arranged by colour. Its a visual chromatic treat celebrating not just colour, but also pattern and the most sumptuous fabrics, whilst highlighting the design house’s complete attention to detail.
“Dior thought that to achieve true elegance, you have to control everything”Florence Muller, Co-Curator
Dior’s fascinating story is told through various sets including an art gallery, an atelier, a street, a boudoir, journeys, and a beautiful garden. I particularly loved how, throughout the exhibition, photography and paintings, alongside sculptures and decorative objets d’art illustrate Dior’s various tastes and sources of inspiration.
We are treated to works by some of the most brilliant fashion photographers of the past and today – Cecil Beaton, Lord Snowdon, Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Horst, Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin, Willy Vanderperre, Paolo Roversi, Sarah Moon amongst others, and incredible artworks by french masters Monet and Renoir.
Since Dior’s death in 1957, six Creative Directors have built on the Dior ‘spirit’ including Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri. Their work features throughout the show, but dedicated rooms for each designer give a more indepth focus on their contributions to the enduring legacy of Dior.
“You will be penniless, but women will be good to you and it is thanks to them that you will succeed.”Fortune teller’s message to a young Dior
Over 300 haute couture gowns are displayed throughout the exhibition, which culminates in the most beautiful ballroom setting, stacked high with gowns worn by various celebrities. I took so many photos, I’ve had to edit this post down quite drastically (you’d be here all day….!).
Concealed projectors transform the ballroom from an early morning scene to night, with a particularly wonderful illusion of golden snow.
Its a mesmerising, enlightening, romantic and inspiring visit – highly recommended.
I haven’t covered every aspect of the exhibition as it would take too long – we were at the show for 2 hours but could have spent much longer there. I haven’t heard of plans for it to travel to London, but even if it does, I urge you to visit it at the Louvre, as the venue really adds to the sense of Parisian style, charm and elegance.
On until 7 Jan 2018 Christian Dior: Couturier du Reve