If I could only describe the new fashion exhibition dedicated to the House of Dior at the V&A Museum in London with one word, it would simply be – pretty. Yes, this is the prettiest exhibition you will ever walk around – as each haute couture piece is as beautiful as the next. You will be mesmerised by the craftsmanship, the exquisite detailing, the wonderful silhouettes, and the magnificent beauty of everything Dior.
Running until July 2019, Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams is going to be the hottest ticket this year, and trust me if you are looking to go, book up quick, as this is going to be a popular exhibition, even more so than the amazing Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty in 2015. The exhibition is a reworking of the magnificent exhibit shown in Paris a few years ago, with a few changes, including a room dedicated to the designer’s fascination with British culture, and that stunning Dior gown worn by Princess Margaret for her 21st birthday, as well as 230 dressed mannequins featuring 157 items that have never been seen in a museum before.
Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams in London
As well as being a retrospective celebrating Christian Dior’s avant-garde spirit, it also showcases the international appeal of the French luxury fashion house since Dior’s passing in 1957, and the creative directors who succeeded him, from Yves Saint Laurent to Marc Bohan, probably the lesser-known Dior designer, to the flamboyant Gianfranco Ferré and John Galliano, the minimalistic chic of Raf Simons and the current Dior creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, who’s adding a feminist charm as the fashion label’s first female head.
What I loved most, other than the fact every gown was so dreamy, was seeing how timeless icons such as Christian Dior’s eternal Bar Suit, from his ground-breaking first collection in 1947, is still relevant in today’s fashion. At the time the design caused a sensation as well as revolutionised the female silhouette with the wasp-waist jacket and full skirt, but now it is widely recognised as standing for Dior. Unlike other fashion designers who had muses, Givenchy had Audrey Hepburn and Yves Saint Laurent had Catherine Deneuve, Dior had a silhouette, which has been reinvented by subsequent Dior designers over the years.
The craftsmanship and beauty of Christian Dior
While the whole exhibition is breathtaking there are a few highlights that I truly adored, like walking into the all-white ‘The Ateliers’ with more than a hundred toiles from the Dior Ateliers displayed in a stunning ‘cabinet of curiosity’ style installation from floor to ceiling – striking is not the word, and trust me watch the film on repeat as it is amazing to see the couturiers work their magic.
My next favourite and probably the prettiest room had to be ‘The Garden’, where hanging paper wisteria, clematis, lily of the valley and roses surrounding the most beautiful of Dior gowns to highlight the importance of flowers and gardens as a source of inspiration to the House, from garments to perfume.
The most spectacular section has to be ‘The Ballroom’, celebrating the fantasy of the ball by showcasing 70 years of formal evening wear under the beauty of a seven-minute reel of shooting stars and golden glitter that projects on to the walls and ceiling – the whole display is truly mesmerising the cinematic ceiling just adds to the magic.
The Ballroom houses couture dresses from the last 70 years including those worn by Jennifer Lawrence to the Oscars, Lupita Nyong’o and Elle Fanning’s Cannes Film Festival looks, as well as the iconic Swarovski crystal-encrusted Dior gown from the 2008 J’Adore campaign as worn by Charlize Theron.
The final look from the exhibition and one of my favourite gowns brings the whole journey of Dior right up-to-date with a beautiful pleated pastel tulle gown designed by Dior’s current creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri inspired by a promotional fan given out during Dior fashion shows throughout the 1950s. Which truly does make the perfect finale and the way this gown is displayed with mirrors showcasing all angles is just heavenly.
If you leave the V&A having not fallen more in love with the beauty of fashion and an admiration for the exquisite craftsmanship of haute couture – I just don’t think we can be friends – I spent two hours in awe at all the incredible gowns, the wonderful embellishments, and the history of the one of the most recognisable luxury fashion houses.
The Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition runs until July 14, 2019 at the V&A Museum, London.