A few years ago one of my best friends treated me to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs exhibition “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams,” and it was truly one of the most enchanting, dreamy and magical fashion exhibitions I have ever seen. So, when I heard the V&A in London were to put on this same show I must admit I was hesitant at first, however, the V&A is one of my favourite museums in the whole entire world, and everything they do is done with a huge passion to make it the most spectacular show on earth.
“There is no other country in the world, besides my own, whose way of life I like so much. I love English traditions, English politeness, English architecture. I even love English cooking.”
~ Christian Dior
Christian Dior was one of the most influential fashion designers of the late 1940s and 1950s who, after World War II, revolutionised fashion like no one had seen before with the gorgeous, iconic silhouette of his voluptuous New Look suit, one that freed women of their dowdy clothes and instead liberated them with cinched waists and full skirts, that can be seen as soon as you enter the exhibition.
But as well as fashion, Dior truly established his name across a global range of products including cosmetics and perfumes. The trajectory of his career and his early life can be seen in an extensive introduction to the life of Dior, the man, in photos, film clips, quotations, letters and much more alongside the New Look suit.
As well as being hugely adored and famous in his homeland of France, Christian Dior had a huge affection for England, and the presentation of this by the V&A makes it a key element that made it different from the exhibition at Les Arts Decoratifs in Paris.
And thus following the introduction, there was a beautiful section on Dior’s work in London documenting how Christian Dior London was established in 1952 (sadly I only realised photos were allowed during the latter part of the exhibition so I didn’t capture any of this).
This section included exclusive pieces and British collaborations including Dents (gloves), Rayne (shoes), Lyle & Scott (knitwear) and of course centre stage is the dress designed for Princess Margaret’s 21st birthday; photographed by Cecil Beaton that is simply breathtaking.
“You can never really go wrong if you take nature as an example”
~ Christian Dior
What follows next is a true enchanting fashion journey, from how travel, different countries and cultures have inspired the various designers at the house of Dior over the centuries, to a stunning presentation of the importance of flowers, nature and gardens to Christian Dior himself that he flourished with passion into his garments, perfume and accessories.
The work of the subsequent six key artistic directors since Christian Dior’s death in 1957 examines the breadth of the fashion house, from accessories including costume jewellery, hats, shoes and bags, to illustrations, miniature dresses and archives of lipstick and cosmetics collected in a kaleidoscopic display.
From the sophisticated designs of Yves Saint Laurent, a mere 21 years old at the time of his work at Dior, to the classic style of Marc Bohan, the flamboyance of Gianfranco Ferré, the theatrical work of John Galliano, the minimalism of Raf Simons, and the feminine elegance of Maria Grazia Chiuri’s. Displayed together in this beautiful exhibitions illustrates beautifully and inspirationally how the successive artistic directors have each stayed true to Dior’s vision of Haute Couture in their own way, whilst bringing their own creative sensibilities to the House of Dior.
“Happiness is the secret to all beauty. There is no beauty without happiness.”
~ Christian Dior
The exhibition ends with gleaming and glittering ball gowns and evening gowns, alongside magical lighting effects that outshines all the other spectacular displays. The glitzy dresses are arranged in a round grand hall style that felt as glamorous as the kind of occasions one could only dream of wearing a Dior gown to. Just in case anyone hasn’t seen the exhibition yet I won’t give away some of the magic in this room because I want you to be as spellbound as me when I first saw it.
Overall the V&A have staged one of the greatest fashion shows London has ever seen. Dior’s work spanned so many creative arts and his elegant timeless designs illustrate his deepest wish for every single soul who wears them to feel like they are in a fairytale.
This exhibition truly showcases Dior’s timeless designs and influences from over the past two centuries, that he still remains one of the most famous and respected designers in history. Christian Dior truly understood women, loved the feminine aspect of fashion and his name became synonymous with taste and luxury.
Whilst the Paris show took my breath away more, this V&A show was far easier to navigate and still just as beautiful in showcasing the sophisticated elegant work of Dior. Overall a must for all who adore fashion and the arts as much as I do. Sadly, whilst the event has been extended until September, it is still sold out online. However, if you’re in London do pop by when the V&A opens at 10am for a limited amount of tickets per day. For members, you can visit at any time of day.
If you have been lucky enough to see this show I’d love to discuss the show with you all so please to be sure to share your opinions with me in the comments below or with a tweet.
“Deep in every heart slumbers a dream and the couturier knows it: every woman is a princess.”
~ Christian Dior
Cromwell Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW7 2RL
020 7942 2000
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 10am -5.45am (Friday until 10pm)