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French museum to host Christian Dior retrospective

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris is to host a Christian Dior retrospective exhibition to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the French fashion house.

The six-month exhibition, entitled Christian Dior, Couturier du Rêve, will feature designs not only by Monsieur Dior but also his successors including Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons, right up to the current creative director of the fashion house Maria Grazia Chiuri.

Opening on July 5, as the haute couture shows take place, the exhibition will feature more than 300 haute couture dresses designed from 1947 to the present day to celebrate 70 years of the French couture house. In addition, the exhibit will also explore the life of Dior from his childhood in Granville to discovering the avant-garde of Parisian art and learning fashion design.

Alongside the couture dresses will be several hundred documents including fashion photographs, illustrations, sketches, reportage photographs, letters and manuscripts, and adverts, as well as paintings and sculptures, which will be used to emphasis Dior’s vision by exploring the links he “forged between sewing and all forms of art”. There is also a wide range of accessories such as bags, shoes, hats, jewellery, and perfumes.

Key highlights includes the spring/summer 1947 Dior collection, where he presented his debut collection featuring a profoundly different image of women, with nipped waist, flared skirts of tulle and soft shoulders, in complete contrast to the past masculine silhouette of the war years. Other key pieces includes the pink Opera bouffe haute couture dress from autumn/winter 1956, the embroidered sequinned evening dress from 1949, and the Duchess yellow printed satin evening dressed designed by Raf Simons in 2012.

Christian Dior, Couturier du Rêve retrospective to open in Paris in July

The exhibition will run in chronological order showing the founding spirit and the heritage of the Dior fashion house through the decades, with each gallery showcasing Dior’s successor’s creations and vision, such as the minimalist aesthetic of Raf Simons, the flamboyant Gianfranco Ferré, the fashion punk of John Galliano, and Maria Grazia Chiuri’s commitment to femininity.

Curators Florence Müller and Olivier Gabet have also put together a gallery offering a summary of the evolution of the fashion house since 1947, illustrated with dresses and excerpts from movies or videos of fashion shows.

The exhibition ends in the ballroom with a presentation of the most recognisable Christian Dior evening dresses, some of which have been worn by the likes of Princess Grace of Monaco to Lady Diana, and Charlize Theron to Jennifer Lawrence.

The retrospective is the first Parisian exhibition to be devoted to Dior since 1987, and its grand scale includes loans from the collections of the Museum of Decorative Arts and the French Union of Costume Arts, The Galliera Palace, the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the De Young Museum in San Francisco, the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation, the Museum of London, Christian Dior of Granville, as well as art works from the Louvre Museum, the Orsay Museum and the Orangerie Museum, the Palace of Versailles, the Center Pompidou, the Museum of Decorative Arts and numerous private collections.

Christian Dior, Couturier du Rêve will run from July 5 - January 7, 2018, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

Images: Musée des Arts Décoratifs website by Nicholas Alan Cope

Christian Dior