Here Is What You Missed From the Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams Exhibition

It’s been well over a year since the opening of the Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition at the V&A. The exhibition was sold out in no time, the duration was extended and even broke visitor records. I previously wrote a post about my visit and how you could get tickets at the time. I thought I’d share a photo-filled post with everything that you missed at the exhibition.

The exhibition showcased the evolution of House of Dior and spans from 1947, when Christian Dior opened his couturier, to today via the six designers who succeeded him.

What was very interesting about the setup was the immersiveness as well as the set-up: rather than showing the collections chronologically, they were grouped together by themes and highlighted examples from each of the designers.

New Look
Once you got through all the different kinds of queues you were introduced to Christian’s life through a timeline. You then entered the first room that pays homage to the Bar suit that set the New Look off: an ensemble of an hourglass jacket and full skirt which came with shapes and silhouettes. This shaped the brand and set him apart as the design was different from the boxer look which was popular at the time.

Dior Line
This darkened room displayed an overview of garments in mirrored boxes lined with bright white light that showed the different shapes and silhouettes Dior introduced to us. This room was just one big celebration of his craftsmanship and legacy.

Dior in Britain
You then arrived at a section dedicated to Dior’s love of Britain and its culture. It included the famous dress that Princess Margaret wore for her 21st birthday portrait. Also it’s actually a skirt. The room also included exclusive pieces from the Christian Dior London line. This section was for the UK only and I believe it won’t travel to the exhibition in the Hague.

The Historicism room showcased the influence that the Belle Époque era had on Dior’s designs – think Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette style. While the dresses in the previous rooms were behind glass, from here on the dresses were openly exposed meaning it was easy to see the details. And details they gave us!

Next on came the travel room that consisted of dresses from different travel themed collections. It included Asian, African, and South American influences. The designs here were the least Dior-like and there is the question of cultural appreciation, but it was interesting to see how the different designers combined the fabrics and silhouettes to fit Dior.

The Garden
This scented room with paper wisterias spilling from the ceiling and floral inspired pieces on display, including the dress Natalie Portman wore for the Miss Dior campaign, was everything. As someone who loves a good floral dress, this room was so dreamy and I love how you could see the styles and fabrics of the dresses reflected in today’s collections.

Designers For Dior
Since Christian Dior passed away in 1957 there have been six creative directors: Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri. They all got their little corner highlighting the contrasting styles and vision of each designer who also abided by the traditions of Dior.

The Ateliers
My favourite room was the floor to ceiling exhibit of toiles (prototype dresses) where you get to see the garment in its purest form before any of the fabric and extras get added and the effort that goes into making each item. Very inspiring.

The Ateliers lead you through the Diorama, on one side it was covered with magazine covers featuring Dior garments and on the other side a colour-coded glass cabinet that showcased the accessories. Everything from costume jewellery, hats and shoes to bags, archive lipstick and perfume bottles.

I’m glad I got some photos because I did not know where to look in the Ballroom. How do you display 70+ years haute couture evening wear? With an over the top projected light show that transported you to another theme every 5/6 minutes. The room included the golden dress Charlize Theron wore for the J’adore perfume ad as well as red carpet dresses worn by Rihana, Jennifer Lawrence and Lupita Nyong’o.

And to close it off there was a dress displayed in a mirrored box and designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri, who created it as an homage to 1950’s Dior and that beautifully shows how the legacy of Dior comes back in full circles

Before it went to London, the exhibition was shown at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, and you can catch it from October 2020 on at the Kunstmuseum in The Hague.

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