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Image: courtesy of the V&A by Adrien Dirand

Dior retrospective coming to the Brooklyn Museum in September

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

7 Jun 2021

The highly successful ‘Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams’ exhibition, which debut in Paris at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in 2017, before stopping in London and Shanghai is coming to America in September.

The major retrospective of the House of Dior will run at the Brooklyn Museum in New York from September 10 to February 20, 2022, with an updated version, which will feature over two hundred haute couture garments as well as photographs, archival videos, sketches, vintage perfume elements, accessories, and works from the Brooklyn Museum’s collection.

‘Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams’ will be presented in the museum’s 20,000 square foot Beaux-Arts Court, and curated by Dior scholar Florence Müller, Avenir Foundation Curator of Textile Art and Fashion, Denver Art Museum, in collaboration with Matthew Yokobosky, senior curator of fashion and material culture at the Brooklyn Museum.

The exhibition will trace the seventy-year history and legacy of the House of Dior, presenting pieces primarily from the Dior archives, including haute couture garments that exemplify many of the French couturier’s fabled silhouettes, such as the ‘New Look,’ which debuted in 1947, just months before Dior would travel to the United States and open the Christian Dior New York branch.

The display will also bring to life Dior’s many sources of inspiration, from the splendour of flowers and other natural forms to classical and contemporary art, with the central atrium being redesigned as an enchanted garden, alongside a gallery showcasing many celebrated dresses worn by movie stars from Grace Kelly to Jennifer Lawrence.

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams to open in America

As with previous displays at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 2019, and the Long Museum West Bund in Shanghai in 2020, there will also be a toile room, paying tribute to the Ateliers, alongside galleries of couture garments showcasing the works by Dior, and the artistic directors who succeeded him, Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons, and Maria Grazia Chiuri.

The exhibition will see Dior designs juxtaposed with the Museum’s collection, in one section, a rare ten-panel ebonised FSW (Folding Screen Wall) (1946–55), by Charles Eames and Ray Eames, is displayed with Dior designs of the era, while in another section are drawings and studies by Judy Chicago, presented with recent designs by Chiuri.

Another highlight will be Dior’s one-of-a-kind, 31-inch Fashion Doll 1880 (Afternoon Ensemble), which entered the Brooklyn Museum’s collection in 1949, making it the first US museum collection to acquire a Dior.

There will also be a dedicated space celebrating leading American photographers such as Lillian Bassman, Cass Bird, Henry Clarke, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, William Helburn, Horst P. Horst, William Klein, David LaChapelle, Annie Leibovitz, Frances McLaughlin-Gill, Gordon Parks, Irving Penn, Karen Radkai, and Herb Ritts, with a special presentation of Richard Avedon’s iconic Dovima with Elephants, Evening Dress by Dior, Cirque d’Hiver, Paris (August 1955).

Florence Müller, Avenir Foundation curator of textile art and fashion, Denver Art Museum, said in a statement: “As early as 1947, with his celebrated ‘New Look’ collection, Christian Dior transformed his sudden name recognition into the international expansion of his House, becoming a precursor of contemporary globalised fashion.

“The opening of the first New York branch, in 1948, was a prelude to this worldwide fame. Following on from the presentation of Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams in Paris and London, the new exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum pays tribute to this unique historic fashion adventure initiated between Paris and New York.”

Matthew Yokobosky, senior curator of fashion and material culture, Brooklyn Museum, added: “The Brooklyn Museum has a long record of recognising important contributions in the history of fashion design, from The Story of Silk (1934) to the groundbreaking Of Men Only (1976) to the recent Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion (2019) and now Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams. Each exemplifies the power of fashion to influence and shift visual culture at large.

“Today, the work of Maria Grazia Chiuri has reshaped the Dior dream for a new generation, with a worldview that brings with it inclusivity and respect as key philosophical directives. We couldn’t be more excited to present these innovative, beguiling—and technically outstanding—designs to our audiences.”