DIOR, perhaps more than any other couture house shows us how history and fashion are linked. He changed the world of fashion when WWII ended creating the “NEW LOOK”. Never mind that women had tasted the freedoms of the working world during the war building airplanes, running assembly lines in factories, driving ambulances and making bombs. We are not talking about shrinking violets. DIOR wanted women to feel like flowers and exotic birds from the unique and rare world of his imagination. You walk through the gardens of DIOR, the thematic thread that ties it all together. Experience the muses, see the models, photographers, make-up artists and creative directors who have all contributed to this extraordinary history.
At the heart of a couture house is always the original creator Monsieur Christian Dior, himself. It falls to the ‘creative directors’ to draw from the past and glean the very essence of the “Esprit” of the house and express this in collections of clothes, accessories and fragrances. It should be mentioned that Yves Saint Laurent also took over the helm of the house briefly after Monsieur Dior died rather suddenly. You can see how Yves Saint Laurent with his first DIOR collection (a critical success) had just begun to make the house his own, when he was fired. Thus began the creation of his own fashion house that was later to be a critical and financial success.
By the time Monsieur Galliano came along and shook up the status quo at DIOR, the couture house has long passed into the annals of French ‘Patrimony’ like the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and the Moulin Rouge. But that was all to change when Galliano took on the modern woman using DIOR to showcase his genius and making the brand relevant again. It is perhaps one of the most successful fashion ‘resurrection’ stories in history.
The artful displays in the gallery show time and history at a standstill. What remains constant is the creation of a DIOR gown and the people whose skills are kept alive in the workshops. The most striking sections of the show was devoted to the patterns or “Mock-Up” of the many DIOR styles. The first exhibit experience was all in black with each garment displayed in its own private shadow box that towered towards the ceiling. The companion piece was an astounding display all in white. The display was a towering skyscraper of historic styles. It was a testimony to the history of clothes and the female form.
The DIOR EXHIBIT was more than a museum display: it was a celebration of the House of Dior and a documentary experience of how a fashion house integrates all the aspects of its brand. For in the end, while it is an art form; the world of couture is a business that must succeed and continue moving in a forward motion or it simply dies out. Let’s hope this never happens. The world would be a grey and lifeless place without a beautiful suit, coat, gown or jewel to celebrate the beauty of woman as Monsieur Dior saw them.
Contributor's Note: For the first time in history, a woman has taken over the helm of the house: Maria Grazia Chiuri. The DIOR exhibit was viewed in 2017 and all photos taken by ARTIFICE.
EVENING gown inspired by the Garden Theme circa 1950s
DIOR cocktail Dresses from DIOR exhibit, Paris 2017