The last Parisian retrospective dedicated to Christian Dior was held in 1987 at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, which focused on 10 years of the couturier’s designs from 1947 to 1957. In celebration of the House of Dior’s 70th anniversary this year, the Maison returns to the scene of the crime for a sequel of sorts with the Christian Dior, Couturier du Rêve (Christian Dior, Couturier of Dreams) exhibiton, this time around, showcasing how Christian Dior and the six Artistic Directors who followed on his heels devised the brand and built up the influence of a name that is the very embodiment of haute couture in France and throughout the world.
Taking place at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris from now till 7 January 2018, the lavish and comprehensive exhibition is a voyage of discovery through the selection of over 300 haute couture gowns designed between 1947 and the present day with a unifying thread of emotions, life stories, affinities, inspirations, creations and legacies. Alongside the dresses is the widest range of display to date of atelier toiles and fashion photographs, as well as hundreds of documents, including illustrations, sketches, documentary photographs, letters and notes and advertising documents, and fashion accessories, including hats, jewellery, bags, shoes and perfume bottles.
Curated by Florence Müller and Olivier Gabet in a space of almost 3,000 square meters, a succession of six galleries is dedicated to the Artistic Directors and how their designs contributed to the quest to stay faithful to Dior’s vision of haute couture: the daring choice of the very young Yves Saint Laurent was followed by Marc Bohan’s more rational appointment; the flamboyant arrival of Gianfranco Ferré; the dramatic era of fashion punk John Galliano; the minimalist statement of Raf Simons’ appointment; and, lastly, the current Maria Grazia Chiuri’s feminist vision of fashion. Furthermore, Dior’s of haute couture is enriched with Frédéric Castet’s fashion fur designs, beauty creations by Serge Lutens, Tyen and Peter Philips, as well as perfume creations by François Demachy.
The exhibition ends in the lavish setting of the nave, transformed into a ballroom for a presentation of a series of truly sumptuous ball gowns, including several glittering creations seen together for the first time in Paris, some of which have been worn by famous clienteles who helped build the success of the House of Dior, such as Princess Grace of Monaco, Princess Diana, Charlize Theron and Jennifer Lawrence.
Amongst the glitterati is the Soirée Brillante, presented at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in November 1955. It was during an exhibition by leading 18th-century French cabinetmakers, and Dior models donned in his evening gowns complemented to the pieces of furniture and objets d’art, demonstrating Christian Dior’s importance role in the history of decorative arts.