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Museum Date: Dior in Paris

Museum Date: Dior in Paris
By Yoek December 5, 2017 12461 Views

5 Dec 2017 10:44:37

After our short trip to Antwerp, we went straight to Paris with the Thalys to pay a visit to two current exhibitions, which cannot be missed – Dior and Yves Saint Laurent. If you already have a December trip planned to Paris, you should definitely find a way to visit (at least) the Dior one and if you are in search of a romantic winter trip for this month, Paris is waiting for you!

This year the Musée des Arts décoratifs celebrates the 70th Anniversary of the creation of the Christian Dior house with the most beautiful exhibition you can imagine. Before we went, we already bought tickets online (must-do!), because we heard about long waiting queues. No lie at all; because when we walked to the Musée, we could already see a queue from far. But the good thing is; there are two queues – one for persons without tickets and one for those with a ticket. Just make sure you have a croissant and a hot coffee with you! As soon as we got in we thought; no way we will be leaving soon! And you will not...because there are too many gorgeous things to admire, you will loudly say ‘oohh’, ‘aahh’ and ‘wow’ without noticing. It is definitely worth it! And we were amazed by several talks we had with locals; it almost feels like they see it as their duty to visit the show, Dior is part of their history, of their cultural heritage. In The Netherlands we mostly see that only fashion lovers tend to visit fashion expositions. But in Paris we felt that as a Parisian, your inner French spirit makes you visit these kind of large shows.

In 1905, Christian Dior was born in a wealthy family in Granville, Normandy, France. When he was fourteen he visited a palm reader who already predicted his outstanding future; “You will be penniless, but women will be good to you and it is thanks to hem that you will succeed.” All this turned out to be true in 1947, when Christian Dior became world’s best-known couturier. But first he studied political science, upon which he opened his own art gallery in 1928 in Paris, unfortunately closed in 1929 already because of the financial crisis. He found a new passion, because after opening and closing a second gallery, he learned drawing and soon became a fashion illustrator. After working as a designer, he founded his very own couture house in 1946.

His first show was held in February 1947, which was a major success. His first haute couture collection unveiled such a revolutionary vision, that the editor of Harper’s Bazaar said “Your dresses have such a New Look!”. This because the post-war designs were mostly masculine and the term ‘New Look’ was used for his two outstanding key silhouettes with curves; full skirts and hip-hugging pencil skirts, both accentuating ample busts, nipped-in waists and sculpted hips. Paris has been the city of couture, the capital city of luxury and fashion since the 17th century. Dior had his first experience with Paris when his family moved there. Paris and especially the Parisian ladies are of endless inspiration for designers, and the city provides a favourite setting for photographers portraying Dior designs. Christian was extremely fond of photographs or drawings depicting his designs, because this put his work in a new light for him. Fashion photography was in full swing when the House of Dior was established. Its reputation and style attracted a great variety of magazines and top photographers. Many pictures will be familiar to you, like these ones by Richard Avedon and an official portrait of Princess Margaret wearing a Dior gown;

The cornerstone of the House was without question the atelier, where seamstresses sometimes worked over thousand hours on one complex design. The ateliers turned the designer ideas into reality, from the first sketches to entire collections. In the exhibition a special tribute to the ateliers is being made, by the addition of an entirely white hall, filled with rows of mannequins dressed in white, toile designs. Following the sketches, the first ‘test versions’ used to be made, and Dior would check upon these. After this process, the fabrics, embroideries and accessories were chosen during the fittings. Christian explored the world since he was young and was known as a real pioneer when it came to fashion globalization. He took on a policy to promote his name throughout the world with a network of boutiques and introducing accessories. In addition, he launched different lines adapted to suit the different markets he worked in.

5 Dec 2017 10:40:12

Christian Dior suddenly passed away in 1957, but his work is still influencing today. His spirit was and is being kept alive throughout the years, by an impressive list of artistic directors; f.ex. Yves Saint Laurent, John Galliano and Raf Simons.

In 2013, Dior created an exhibition of miniature versions of iconic Dior gowns, which we admired (in regular size) in the final (breathtaking) part of the exposition. The mini-pieces were beautifully made and showed in the ‘Colorama’ part of the exhibition. Colorama was the ultimate dream of Dior; to dress a woman in Christian Dior from head to toe. And with this it did not stop at one’s clothing, but he created everything, from hats to shoes, from jewellery to bags, from fragrances to make-up. In the exhibition the different colours, including all these different items all designed by Dior, were beautifully presented like a rainbow – a colour palette from shade to shade. Pink was for example the colour of happiness and femininity for him, and he considered black as the most elegant of colours, he claimed that he could write an entire book about the darkest shade.

5 Dec 2017 09:36:45

In contrast with his preference for black, he also had a weakness for brightness and sweetness. The scent of flowers reminded Dior of his childhood garden, overlooking the sea and islands. He loved to draw his collections in the middle of his garden. Surprisingly, many designers are fond of flowers and gardening, resulting in delicate embroideries, runways with freshly picked flowers and petal embellishments. His love for flowers, also resulted in Dior perfume, because he felt that a gown without perfume would be incomplete. Miss Dior was part of the 'New Look' collection, and sprayed in the salons just before the collection was showed. There even is a Miss Dior dress, covered with tiny fabric flowers;

When you are almost sure the end of the exhibition has come, when walking down a dark room with a timeline of designs, the most sensational part is still waiting for you. We just lost our breath, when entering an enormous hall, with a very high ceiling and bright like the sun. We spent almost an hour in this amazing space, by looking and listening by what happened around us. First; there is an amazing collection of dozens of ball gowns, evening dresses and the most spectacular ensembles we can only wish for in our closets. Second; your surroundings are changing continuously – from a starry sky like midnight, to a sparkling meteor shower, to a rising morning sun. We had a hard time to leave this fairytale atmosphere, it felt like a princess dream!

You can visit the spectacular exhibition until the 7th of January 2018, address: The Musée des Arts Décoratifs, 107 Rue de Rivoli, 75001, Paris, France.

Our next museum blog will be about the Yves Saint Laurent museum, located in the former haute couture house at Avenue Marceau . No rush here, since the museum is there to stay and will have different exhibitions, the current one is on until September 2018.