200 haute couture Dior dresses were on display at the Dallas Museum of Art Dior: From Paris to the World. This special exhibition came to Dallas after a successful debut at the Denver Art Museum. It documents the history and evolution of the fashion designer Christian Dior who wanted to be a composer or an architect and instead ran a gallery and then became the founder of one of the world’s top fashion houses. Here are a ‘few’ of my favorites from the fashion show, I mean exhibition 🙂
From Paris to the World: Dior at DMA
The legendary and iconic fashion house Christian Dior continues to generate an epic movement in fashion history and a loyal following. A pioneer in the globalization of fashion, Dior built an empire that reached around the world. With lavish embroidery, luxurious fabrics, and elegant silhouettes, Dior’s designs were a revolutionary celebration of modern femininity when they emerged in Paris after World War II. His unique style inspired by art and culture celebrated the triumphant return of feminity.
Dior Dresses at the Dallas Museum of Art
We started at the “Office of Dreams,” an arrangement of toiles, muslin mock-ups, to “Fields of Flowers,” which was my favorite, a room full of floral Dior dresses accompanied by impressionist paintings. I was in heaven!
The exhibition had dresses by both Dior himself and subsequent artistic directors, including Yves Saint Laurent (1958–1960), Marc Bohan (1961–1989), Gianfranco Ferré (1989–1996), John Galliano (1997–2011), Raf Simons (2012–2015), and Maria Grazia Chiuri (2016–present). All of whom have carried Dior’s vision into the 21st century.
Born into a well to do family, Christian Dior dreamed of being a composer or an architect. He studies political science before becoming a director of two art galleries in Paris. He and his partners, Jacques Bonjean and then Pierre Colle, showed the work of famous artists including Picasso, Miro, Matisse and Braque among others. In 1933 his gallery organized a Surrealism exhibition featuring Salvador Dali, Marcel Duchamp (see his famous sculpture at the SFMOMA)
Yves Saint Laurent was nineteen when he was first hired by Christian Dior as an assistant in 1955. After the sudden passing of Dior, Saint Laurent became the successor of the fashion house. While the company’s management initially hesitated, the success of the young designer’s first Dior collection themed “Trapeze” in 1958 reassured them. But when his subsequent 1960 collection “Beatnik” didn’t do well, he left Dior and founded his own couture house in 1961 with Pierre Berge.
Maria Grazia Chiuri is the first woman to head the house of Dior. Her vision for the new Dior is one of “timelessness, which is central for Dior and keeps couture wearable. It’s important to me to create a dream, while also remaining realistic.” she says. She made headlines with her “We should all be feminists” ready to wear collection and believes that the new Dior woman…
…would be desirable, fragile, but sure of herself with real inner strength.Maria Grazia Chiuri
Art and cultures around the world were a source of inspiration of the Dior dresses, on the display at the Dallas Museum of Art were dresses inspired by Seville and the Spain of Goya, the monuments of Paris, England and Fox hunting, the Japanese Kimono and cherry blossoms, Chinese silks, Indian Sari and embroidery, the art of Africa’s Maasai people, colorful traditional clothing of Peru and Mexico.
The museum’s barrel vault wan turned into a catwalk, with multiple stories of haute couture specimens inspired by global cultures lining either side. In addition to Rihanna’s white ball gown and matching cloak, Lady Gaga’s, Charlize Theron, and Natalie Portman’s dress were also displayed on the archway among other gowns.
Apart from the 200 haute couture dresses, there were accessories, photographs, original sketches, runway videos, and other archival material also on display.
Although only a few could afford haute couture, the royals, celebrities and socialites were big fans. Grace Kelly dressed in Dior for the announcement of her engagement to Prince Rainer of Monaco and remained loyal to the label.
From hats to shoes, makeup and perfume, Christian Dior offered the woman a total look. He wanted women to leave his boutique dressed from head to toe in Dior. There were matching lip colors for every dress. Shoes and jewelry were created in collaboration with the best artisans on the same color palette. Pink was the predominant color as it was the color of youth and happiness and red was the color of life and he designed many show stopping dresses known as Trafalgars in those colors.
After woman, flowers are the most divine creationsChristian Dior
Dior had a passion for gardening and designed the garden spaces around his homes as retreats conducive to creativity much like Giverny. Lily of the valley was his signature flower and he is said to have been inspired by impressionists, especially Monet and made floral embroidery a big part of the dresses he designed. As a child, he would study seed catalogs and planned the flowerbeds with his mother at their seaside home in Granville.
“Splendors of the 18th Century,” a celebration of excessive frills, with a Jean Baptiste Marie Pierre painting in the background.
My dressess make a princess of every woman.Christian Dior
If you are a Dior fan, you might want to visit Villa des Rhumbs, Christian Dior’s boyhood house in Granville, France. A place and gardens that inspired him throughout his artistic career is now a museum dedicated to the designer, displaying his clothes, fragrances, and keepsakes from his life.
I love Christion Dior’s legacy of refined fashion where he above all wanted “to make women happier and more beautiful.” One of my first gifts that Mr. Suburbia got me before we got married was a bottle of Poison by Dior – with a disclaimer, “you know that is not actually poison, right“. I don’t own any Dior dresses yet but was excited to be in a room covered wall to wall in beautiful Dior creations.
Dallas Museum of Art
1717 North Harwood
Dallas, Texas 75201
Late Night tickets are $15 public, $10 students (with valid ID) and FREE for DMA Members and children 11 and under. Special exhibition admission like the Jackson Pollock Blindspots was $16.
A few other Fashion Galleries and Museum you might want to visit:
Gucci Museum in Florence
Gucci has a fashion gallery and textile museum in Florence located in a 14th-century Palazzo della Mercanzia. Created to commemorate its 90th birthday, the permanent exhibits include luggage collections, jewelry, scarves, and a 1979 Cadillac Seville upholstered in Gucci trademark cloth. In 2017, the museum got an upgrade and now has spaces to dine and shop.
Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent in Paris
Designer Yves St Laurent and business partner, Pierre Bergé established their foundation in Paris. The goal was to conserve Haute Couture garments, accessories (over 15,000) and preserve more than 50,000 drawings and assorted objects that bear witness to 40 years of Yves Saint Laurent’s creativity. The museum, just like the YSL Villa in Marrakech, features many modern art pieces that inspired the designer.
The Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York houses over 35,000 costumes and accessories from the fifteenth century till today. Victoria and Albert Museum in London is another one of the world’s biggest textile museums dedicated to art, design and Textiles.
From Kent to Kyoto, see a comprehensive list of other Fashion galleries and textile museums you can visit around the world.
If you like Art, check these other posts:
Paul Gauguin: The artist who went to Tahiti and never came back
Visiting Van Gogh in Saint Remy
Gustav Klimt: The Golden Kiss and more
Claude Monet: Paintings & Techniques
Paul Cezzane: The man and his mountain
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