To Dior For

 

My dresses make a princess of every woman”  Christian Dior

 

Exactly 3 weeks to the official first day of Summer!

No doubt most of you have already made your travel plans but I’m urging all fashion enthusiasts- dare I say anyone who appreciates beautiful things, if you find yourself in Texas this summer (bring your fans!) head to the Dallas Museum of Art for the “Dior: From Paris To The World” exhibit.

 

I’ve tried my best to exercise restraint by not showing tooo many photos!

 

The show begins with the “Revolutionary New Look,” a gallery backlit in red silhouetting 18 looks in black representing the seven creative directors in Dior’s 72-year history.

As a young man Christian Dior (1905-1957) dreamt of becoming an architect or composer. Instead, he studied political science and became a successful art gallerist. He worked with many famous artists of the period including Picasso, Matisse, Calder, Dali and Man Ray before The Great Depression devastated his family’s wealth and he took up fashion illustration to make ends meet.

 

A very young Christian Dior.

 

Below is an abridged excerpt from a 1948  article entitled “DIOR” in Life Magazine;

Although scarcely anyone had ever heard of him before last year, Christian Dior had been a minor league figure in Paris dress business, on and off, since 1936. About a year and a half ago, with backing from a French gambler and millionaire named Marcel Boussac, he left a job as one of Lucien Lelong’s numerous assistants to open his own dress shop — a fine old mansion on the Avenue Montaigne, a few steps away from the Champs Elysées. He plunged lavishly, staking everything on a single throw. For four months 85 decorators and painters labored to produce an atmosphere of discreet elegance unequaled in any existing Paris salon de couture. When the setting was ready, Dior retired to his little country house near Fontainbleau and meditated for a week. He returned from his lonely vigil, his pockets stuffed with 300 designs scrawled on odd bits of paper.

“I’m a mild man,” Dior says, “but I have violent tastes.” Violent tastes were precisely what the situation demanded. Dior went all-out for his new line. His narrow waists became as much as 2 inches narrower by means of specially installed corsets. His low necks were so low that they barely stopped at the waist. Other designers might sidle up to old-fashioned femininity and romance; Dior tackled it headlong.

The rest, as they say, is fashion history.

“A pioneer in the globalization of fashion” Dior built an empire that spanned around the world. Six designers have succeeded him since his untimely death in 1957 at the age of 52.

Interestingly enough, in searching for photos of a “young Christian Dior” the first images to pop up are always of Yves Saint Laurent. Pics of young Dior himself are rare.

Ahh, the power of the pretty face!

 

Yves Saint Laurent, having started as an assistant when he was  only 19, became Dior’s first successor.  Dior himself designated Saint Laurent as such, though the House of Dior was understandably wary given YSL’s tender age of 21 at the time of Dior’s death. His tenure was to last just two years, but as history has also shown, as well as being a ‘creative’ himself, Dior had an keen eye for finding exceptional talent in others.

 

The Saint Laurent period.

 

Before every collection, Dior drew hundreds of sketches, which were transformed into toile, or mock-ups in plain cotton muslin.

 

Though I think he looks much older, this portrait of Dior must have been done close to the time he passed away from a heart attack at 52 at the height of his career.

 

 

The debonair Marc Bohan, was to follow Yves Saint Laurent remaining at the helm of the house of Dior from 1961 until 1989.

 

 

Gianfranco Ferre (I’m a huge fan) followed Marc Bohan as the next head of Dior, becoming the first non french designer to enter the realms of Parisian haute couture. His residence was to last from 1989-1996.

 

 

 

And then came John. “The Story Teller” (Dior; 1997-2011)

Say or think what you will of John Galliano, the enfant terrible of British fashion raised the house of Dior to unparalleled heights of fashion fantasy.

 

Galliano and Linda Evangelista after his 2005-2006 Haute-Couture Fall-Winter collection for Christian Dior in Paris, July 6, 2005.
Photo by Java/ABACA

 

A quick search of “Galliano at Dior” serves up a cornucopia of lush visuals. I haven’t gone down a rabbit hole of clicks that time consuming since I was doing a post on Marlon Brando  😉

Unfortunately, John Galliano left under a dark cloud (of tulle no doubt) in 2011, after being let go by Dior when he was caught spewing drunken, anti-Semitic slurs in a Paris restaurant. Off to Rehab Land he went, reemerging as creative director at Martin Margiela in 2014. He is now a vegetarian and committed to using NO FUR in fashion. So, at least in this case, the leopard has indeed changed his spots.

 

Next came Raf Simons (Dior 2012-2015) who calmed things back down at the house of Dior with a return to romanticism and nature, albeit in a very sculptural form.

 

Getty image

Simons shows featured towering walls of lush flowers from beginning to end.

 

 

Raf Simons for Dior, AW12 Haute Couture. Paintings by Sterling Ruby were incorporated through a process called warp printing, a difficult fabric technique, to add movement.

 

Lastly, til present, Maria Grazia Chiuri, who in 2016 became the first woman to ever be Creative Director at Dior.

Vogue

From collections by Dior’s  Maria Grazia Chiuri .

 

 

 

This photo is interesting as we see an original Christian Dior on the left, John Galliano in the centre, and Maria Grazia Chiuri to the right.

 

 

Iconic Dior

 

 

Couldn’t you just weep with the details??!

 

A garden of handspun delights

 

 

Slim Paley on the beat.

 

John Galliano for Dior

 

getty image

 

“To those who criticized his outrageousness, Galliano replied “Better to have no taste at all than to be limited by good or bad taste”

While this might be a bit of throwaway fashion quote, I always appreciated the fantasies that emerged from the scrapbooks and collages of Galliano’s travels. I viewed his storylines from all corners of the globe as homages rather than ‘cultural appropriations’. Then again, to be frank, I have no problem with wearing clogs, berets, African jewelry or sushi being served in school cafeterias for that matter, but… to each his own. The only thing I am sure of is that arguments can and will be made for both sides of this controversial topic and everyone should be  entitled to their opinion without feeling the need to dissuade others of theirs.

Below, a paragraph from an otherwise glowing review of the DMA exhibition by Rick Brettell for The Dallas News.

 

Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dior’s current head of design, ‘culturally appropriating’ Japanese culture.

 

Galliano

 

more Galliano

 

 

 

One section of the exhibit features several large vitrines displaying both real and miniature accessories & dresses.

 

Just magical.

 

Dipping for Dior

 

 

I’ve no idea how the DMA exhibit compares to the current 70 year celebration of Dior on at the V & A in London entitled “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams” (previously in Paris and SOLD OUT May to Sept. 1st) other than the V&A show at least partially focuses on Dior’s relationship with Britain.

 

 

To be fair, however fab the V & A exhibition is (and I’m sure it’s pretty damn fab) given the difference in size and scope of these two museums, I think the DMA has mounted an incredible show.

 

 

Galliano.

Gosh, I don’t know about you, but I’m freshly inspired! This is why visits to museums and a little culture here and there is so good for the soul. From now on I’m really going to make the effort to up my sartorial game a little and not just on special occasions. It’s never too late!

And for anyone who saw me at the airport on the way home…I haven’t started just yet. Because, the weekend!

Please watch this trailer and tell me fashion isn’t fun.

Link:

DIOR AND I 

From the trailer of “Dior and I”

 

Do you have a favourite Dior designer ??!

xx SP.

 

All photos taken in the MDA are mine. Other photos (of designers etc.) credited whenever possible.

All pieces from the Dior Heritage Collection, Paris.

image from the “Dior: From Paris to The World” at the DMA

 

 

 

About the author

author avatar

, Mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend and ‘Work in Progress’ striving to Live in the Moment (any minute now :) ) I love to design interiors, snap photos and fiddle with flowers and started this blog in 2009 on a dare. Now, even I’m shocked. I love my family & friends, books & travel, martinis and people who make me laugh.

33 Comments

  1. Not since poker great Amarillo Slim has someone thusly monikered showcased the Lone Star State so well! “The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You” Slim and they love what they see!

  2. The V&A show was rooms and rooms and more rooms. It had one whole room , floor to ceiling, of the muslins. One room had white flowers of paper adorning the entire walls and hanging from the ceiling. Another had a rotating slide show on the ceiling of stained glass, stars, sky etc. glorious!
    It showcased all that you reported on and more.
    I-have loved your posts….more please!

  3. I enjoyed your post about the Dior exhibit in Dallas. I saw it twice in Paris (In July and December 2017 and it was absolutely magical. It was in the museum of Les Arts Decoratifs, which is housed in the Louvre so the setting was amazing especially the last hall where they had the most gorgeous gowns that were complimented by a sound and light show that was just magical. I stayed there more than an hour just listening and watching the magic of these gowns coming alive. They also had little booths where they would have one of their “ouvrieres d’atelier” (the seamstresses etc) show their art in real life. I saw them make the handle of the iconic Lady Dior bag that was invented for Lady Di, and also part of the iconic white jacquet of the New Look. Amazing the amount of work and craftsmanship that goes in there. I have tons of pics and videos and had to restrain myself from posting tons on Instagram, it was truly an incredible experience. Wanted to go to London just to see it a 3rd time, but it was already sold out 🙁 Glad you could see it in Dallas. Thanks for making us (re) live the Dior magic in your post. xx

  4. He didn’t leave is a veil of tulle, he was fired because he was anti Semitic. Call it as the truth.

    • Hmmm. Wondering which part of my “after being let go by Dior when he was caught spewing drunken, anti-Semitic slurs in a Paris restaurant.” you didn’t comprehend.

  5. Just returned from London and the V&A show on Dior. It is utterly spectacular, and from your photos, shares quite a few similarities. Wonder if both shows shared talent, because display seems very much duplicated, in a great way. V&A had marvelous comparisons of the various designers, and it was brilliant. The last big portion of the exhibit was mind-boggling, with a rotating stage filled with dresses as the day dawned and progressed thru the light of 24 hours changed, as did the world. Worth every penny spent to get into the sold-out show–just become a member of the V&A, and in you go–sort of for free!

    • How amazing! I’m keeping my fingers crossed I may still get to see it. It’s on until Sept. 1. Perhaps they might even extend it?

  6. I went to the Dior exhibition back in February in my city. To say it was a religious experience is an understatement. My favorite part was the pairing of famous paintings next to Dior pieces. Sublime! Thanks for letting me visit it thru the eyes of Big D Slim!

  7. Amazing capture of this fashion icon! I’m so impressed these pieces have been preserved so we can all enjoy them. YSL would be my choice because I loved seeing his fashions on the pages of Vogue when I was a teenager.

  8. Hmmm, Dior, Galliano, Chuiri…seems almost sinful to compare. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Thank you for an excellent eye.

  9. Thank you for the plug! I will be in Dallas in a few weeks and will rush to see the exhibit. Thank you also for the beautiful report and photos. Ah who can forget the amaaazing Raf Simons walls of flowers!?
    Beautiful clothes but I think what you are wearing steals the thunder! That jacket….to die for!

  10. I too came away from the Dior exhibition (at theV&A) determined to up my game in the sartorial area! Gardening in a ball gown still to be achieved. It was the most beautiful exhibition I’ve seen, the craftsmanship was outstanding. Thoroughly recommend it.

  11. Oh the right side of my brain is bursting with joy! Thank you for sharing this beautiful exhibit. Fabulous! All of it.

  12. I loved the photos. So much gorgeousness. Thanks for this (as always) fun and informative post.
    BTW, the documentary about Raf Simons at the helm of Dior was terrific. I especially loved all the footage with the highly skilled seamstresses upstairs at the Dior Atelier.

  13. I aDIOR this post! One gown is more stunning than the next. SO inspiring. Thanks for the awesome front-line coverage, intrepid reporter!

  14. Almost like a dream! I can’t imagine what torment it would’ve been to currate that show! How do you choose from all of the gorgeous clothes??

  15. Such lovely dresses! I am glad to see that women are STILL wearing dresses. Also, they are very beautiful and right now we have a lot of ugliness around us!

  16. A poem I just wrote. At 76. Thought you would relate. Sure you have given away beautiful clothes.

    The Consignment

    I take them out of the closet gently
    Deciding the fate of each,
    Knowing the life they decorated
    Is now out of my reach.

    They have hung there for years,
    Too precious to give away.
    But we’re downsizing the house
    And besides — they’ve had their day.

    These artifacts have been with me
    For, what, thirty years?
    Is it really time to give them up:
    To accept my greatest fears?

    That romance can’t still be clothed?
    That dances aren’t still to be danced?
    That I won’t need a de la Renta?
    That I won’t have another chance?

    For these are works of art
    Adorned with filigrees
    Hanging draped on the bias
    With way too many memories.

    A gown shared a dinner in Paris,
    One was ripped while in Palm Beach,
    The peignoir caught perfumed winds
    On a yacht near Bitter Reach.

    There’s still too much life in them,
    I can hear them rustle and swoon.
    I can remember them hugging my body
    When a man looked across the room.

    So I lay them on the bed by season
    Assessing their second hand chance,
    Knowing they are passé
    But not too old to dance.

    Yet the cute young appraisers
    Will see only moth holes and wrinkles,
    Will frown at the bad taste and styling,
    Will deduct for stains and crinkles.

    They will see relics of the 80’s
    And assign them to the very back rack,
    While I still see silk and velvet
    And still feel a breath on my back.

    Julie Fritz
    http://www.juliefritz.com

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