The new Dior retrospective exhibition at the V&A is as fantastical and delightfully beautiful as is befitting of one of the most famous Parisian fashion houses. This comprehensive exhibition explores the early life of Christian Dior, the founding of his namesake company and its success throughout the decades in the hands of each of its custodians.
Whilst successfully illustrating the history, skill and creativity of the atelier, the main attraction of the exhibition is the clothing: extravagant stunning haute couture painstakingly assembled by skilled artisans and intended to be worn only by the highest echelons of society.
Based on the successful exhibition at Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris which celebrated the 70th birthday of the House of Dior, the show has been refreshed for the V&A.
The exhibition starts by exploring how Christian Dior stunned the fashion world after the austerity imposed by the Second World War through the New Look, epitomised by the Bar Suit. Additional material created especially for the V&A showcases Dior’s love of all things English and how English society loved him back. Successors to Dior are also showcased, with work from Maria Grazia Chiuri, Raf Simons, John Galliano, Gianfranco Ferré, Marc Bohan and Yves Saint Laurent showing reinterpretations of Dior’s inspirations and traditional shapes.
Throughout there is an emphasis on the team effort behind the Dior collections, with exhibits presenting the collaborators for accessories, hair, make-up and photography and the skilled artisans who construct and embellish the garments on display. This culminates in a room filled floor to ceiling with the prototypes of the garments in rest of the exhibition. The highlight of the retrospective is the ballroom: filled with exquisite ballgowns from early pieces from the founding of the house through to the latest gowns from just two seasons ago.
One omission that seems glaring however, is the apparent glossing over of Galliano’s departure. With his actions making the news the world over and causing him to lose his own label in the process, it seems odd that the only mention of this major incident in the label’s recent history is one small line stating he left ‘amid controversy’.
Barring this, the exhibition is wildly popular for good reason. The original run of the exhibition sold out soon after opening, resulting in a six-week extension being announced recently. Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams will be running at the Victoria and Albert Museum through to 1st September.
For more information about the exhibition, please click here.
For information about other great exhibitions in London, please click here.