Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams – V & A Museum, London

Christian Dior by Maria Grazia Chiuri (b. 1964), Dress, Haute Couture, Spring/Summer 2018 Photo © Laziz Hamani Dior Héritage collection, Paris
Christian Dior by Maria Grazia Chiuri (b. 1964), Dress, Haute Couture, Spring/Summer 2018 Photo © Laziz Hamani Dior Héritage collection, Paris
Christian Dior by Maria Grazia Chiuri (b. 1964), Dress, Haute Couture, Spring/Summer 2018 Photo © Laziz Hamani Dior Héritage collection, Paris

Christian Dior by Maria Grazia Chiuri (b. 1964), Dress, Haute Couture, Spring/Summer 2018 Photo © Laziz Hamani Dior Héritage collection, Paris

An outstanding exhibition Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams will present a collection of over 500 frocks, drawings, photographs and objects when it goes on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, February 2 – July 14, 2019. 

Christian Dior with fashion model Victoire wearing the "Zaire" dress (Autumn Winter Haute Couture collection, H line) 1954 © 2013 Mark Shaw

Christian Dior with fashion model Victoire wearing the “Zaire” dress (Autumn Winter Haute Couture collection, H line) 1954 © 2013 Mark Shaw

It follows on from other CD major displays in Paris and Melbourne in recent years. This show will be highlighted by many events relating to the story of the designer Christian Dior, exploring the master couturier’s relationship and influence on Britain from 1947 to the present day and the founding of the fashion house that continues to bear his name and flourish.

Royal Portrait of Princess Margaret on her 21st birthday Photograph by Cecil Beaton (1904–1980) © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Royal Portrait of Princess Margaret on her 21st birthday Photograph by Cecil Beaton (1904–1980) © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Beauty, function, tradition, style, affluence and innovation all of these affect and shape the creativity and imagination of those involved in the world of fashion design. Among others, spectacular Christian Dior haute couture gowns worn by the Queen’s sister Princess Margaret (1930-2002), Ballerina Margot Fonteyn (1919-1991) and one of today’s favourite American actors, Jennifer Lawrence, and not seen anywhere else, will be on show.

Dior Black Dress

Christian Dior (1905–57), Soirée de Décembre, Evening Dress, Haute Couture, Autumn/Winter 1954, H Line Gift of Dame Margot Fonteyn Photo © Laziz Hamani Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Producing a fabulous frock with an hourglass shape helped by a bustier style bodice, boned and wasp-waisted corset, which provided a focus for yards of skirts showcased by frothy petticoats underneath, was always a challenge to surmount; except for the fashion guru of the twentieth century Christian Dior (1905-1957).

Following deprivations in wartime it was in 1947 when Christian Dior launched his ‘New Look’ revolutionizing women’s fashion around the western world.

All did not go to plan especially in Britain where the incumbent Labour Government at the time, it seems, did its best to stop the fashions coming onto the British Market.

In their ‘wisdom’ they decided ‘in a time of consolidation and recovery’ from the horrors and damage of World War II such ‘frivolous fashion’ would be out of place – ‘a total waste of valuable resources’.

Christian Dior (1905–57), Bar Suit, Haute Couture, Spring/Summer 1947, Corolle Line Photo © Laziz Hamani, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Christian Dior (1905–57), Bar Suit, Haute Couture, Spring/Summer 1947, Corolle Line Photo © Laziz Hamani, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

However, in attempting censorship they only gave the market and Christian Dior’s product a big boost, and the success of the new style was assured

By the early 1950s women around the world had embraced Christian Dior’s new look, which was all at once, feminine, glamorous and guaranteed to turn all heads.

Dior gave women the personal lift they needed, making them look and feel fabulous.

Christian Dior also helped re-invigorate the city of Paris, ensuring it remained at the centre of the fashion world from that day to this.

Today we live during a time when it has become almost impossible to make a distinction between fashionable styles that will last, new trends that will grow and the passing fancies of a season. Recycling fashion has come into Vogue and you can just as easily see a ‘new look’ styled number on the streets of any major city, as the current look for jeans.

Christian Dior (1905–57), Fête joyeuse, Evening Dress, Haute Couture Spring/Summer 1955, A Line Photo © Laziz Hamani Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Christian Dior (1905–57), Fête joyeuse, Evening Dress, Haute Couture Spring/Summer 1955, A Line Photo © Laziz Hamani Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The costume we wear on a daily basis is all about perceptions. Christian Dior certainly triumphed with his chic, elegant and sophisticated first impressions, ensuring they became for many, everlasting.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2019

dior-9Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams

February 2 – July 14, 2019

Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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