'Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams' Exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Inspired by the 2017 Paris Dior Exhibition (featured in this photo), the V&A Museum presents Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams. Inspired by the 2017 Paris Dior Exhibition (featured in this photo), the V&A Museum presents Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams. Photo from Flickr.

 

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams transports visitors into a beautiful fantasy. One thematic room after another in the historic Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), filled with gown after gown after gown. The exhibit showcases over 300 brand-specific objects and 200 couture gowns designed by the House of Dior over the past 72 years.

 

Why Christian Dior?

As mentioned in the photo above, the core pieces from this exhibition first went on display in Paris in 2017. Building upon the success of that show, curator Oriole Cullen imagined an expansion to include the impact Dior had on the UK, and the impact the UK had on Dior.

Christian Dior, the man, loved to travel. Of course, his travels took him to London, where he fell in love with the tailors of Savile Row. No less than 21 private British clients flocked to purchase Dior's suits and gowns in his first years designing.

After a year of servicing private UK clients, in 1947, Dior staged his first fashion show at the Savoy Hotel. Many shows followed, including a very important one in 1950.

One entire room in this exhibition centers on Dior in Britain, beginning with the cream-colored birthday gown worn by Princess Margaret on her 21st birthday. The gown is situated near the Cecil Beaton portrait of the Princess wearing the gown for her birthday portrait.

The story goes that Christian Dior held a private fashion show for the Queen, Princess Margaret, and the Duchess of Kent in 1950. Held at the French Embassy, the show included the delicious gown. The Princess fell in love immediately, and no wonder. Cream chiffon, off-the shoulder gauzy sleeves, layer upon layer of airy lace, accented with straw embroidered butterflies and crystals.

Loaned to the V&A Museum by the Museum of London, the handmade couture gown truly showcases not only Dior's influence in Britain, but also his singular approach to design. This singular approach shines in all of the 200 gowns on display in Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams.

 

Depth & Breadth

In addition to showcasing the breadth of Dior's impact, the V&A exhibition highlights the incredible details that go into making such beautiful clothes by hand. A section devoted solely to Le Petit Mains, the little hands which literally piece the gowns together stitch by stitch, includes cotton prototypes (toiles). In addition, it features film and photographs depicting the couturiers at work.

Dior perfumes, as well as other Dior accessories, also take pride of place among the lavishly decorated display rooms. In particular, Dior's premiere fragrance, Miss Dior, stands in its original 1947 Baccarat blue crystal bottle. Also, lipsticks, hats, jewelry, handbags, and shoes round out the brand's accessories displays.

Another important room showcases the works of Dior's designers from 1947 to today. Each of Dior's designers followed the Dior Codes, including but not limited to the signature use of the color red, the Bar Suit, flower motifs, and the ideals of femininity, beauty, and fantasy. Yet, each also brought their own flair, their own individuality and style to further the overall success of the brand.

Today, Maria Grazia Chiuri holds the distinguished title of head designer. Before her came Raf Simons, John Galliano, Gianfranco Ferré, Marc Bohan, and Yves Saint Laurent. Each has a handful of gowns specifically chosen for the 'Designers for Dior' room.

Gardens & Ballrooms

I want to mention to more rooms, The Garden Room and The Ballroom. The Garden Room offers a whimsical stroll through a summer garden lush with wisteria blossoms. A nice bench welcomes a leisurely look at the beautiful garden-inspired Dior gowns.

The Ballroom features 70 years of stunning formal gowns, many of them worn on the red carpet. In particular, the gorgeous gown worn by Charlize Theron in the J'Adore campaign of 2008. Also, the flowing petal-strewn dress worn by Elle Fanning at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. Finally, one last beautiful gown to mention, the architectural gown with a feathered skirt worn by Lupita Nyong'o at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

All eleven of the rooms in the Christian Dior exhibit at the V&A are truly enchanting, inspiring, and breathtaking. I encourage you to visit their website to plan your visit.

This link offers a stunning sneak peek to whet your appetite. Don't be alarmed when you see "sold out" under the marquee.

In small print in the sidebar, I read the following: "Extra tickets will be released monthly around the 15th. Very limited tickets are available to purchase daily at 10am from the Grand Entrance on a first-come, first-served basis; these tickets are for times throughout the day on that day only."