Princess Margaret photographed by Cecil Beaton on her 21st birthday in 1949 wearing Christian Dior.
Next spring the Victoria & Albert museum is set to open the doors on the largest and most comprehensive exhibition ever staged in the UK on the House of Dior. Opening on February 2, 2019, Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams will be the V&A’s second largest fashion exhibition after 2015’s monumental Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, and the first to be hosted in the museum’s Sainsbury Gallery, sponsored by Swarovski.
L-R: Christian Dior (1905–57), Bar Suit, Haute Couture, SpringSummer 1947 and Christian Dior (1905–57), Avril, Dress, Haute Couture, SpringSummer 1955.
Based on the hugely popular Christian Dior: Couturier du Rêve exhibition which ran at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris from July 2017 to January 2018, the show has been reimagined for the V&A. Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams brings to the V&A an in-depth and wide-ranging study of the unique Haute Couture garments since 1947. Across 11 sections, the exhibition showcases the exquisite skill and craftsmanship of the ateliers and successive designers from the House of Dior.
The New Look: focuses on Dior’s famed Bar Suit from his ground-breaking first collection in 1947 and considers how subsequent Dior designers have reinterpreted it over the years.
The Dior Line: showcases ten defining looks made between 1947 and 1957, Christian Dior’s own tenure at the House.
Dior in Britain: (New to London) uncovers Christian Dior’s personal love of England and his British client’s reciprocal love for his fashion. Focusing mostly on Dior’s lifetime, it highlights early Dior fashion shows staged in country houses and grand hotels around Britain, the Dior London company and British clients such as Princess Margaret. (Pictured above, centre)
Historicism: examines the influence of historic dress and decorative arts in the House of Dior’s designs from 1947 to today, encompassing Dior’s love of the 18th century, and the Belle Époque fashions worn by his mother, Madeleine Dior.
Travels: explores how travel and different countries and cultures have consistently inspired the various designers at the House of Dior.
The Garden: highlights the importance of flowers and gardens as a source of inspiration to the House, from garments to perfume.
Designers for Dior: spotlights the work of the subsequent six key artistic directors since Christian Dior’s death in 1957.
The Ateliers: showcases toiles from the Dior Ateliers in a stunning ‘cabinet of curiosity’ style installation.
Diorama: examines the breadth of the House of Dior, from accessories including costume jewellery, hats, shoes and bags, to illustrations, miniature dresses and archive lipstick and perfume, bottles, collected in a kaleidoscopic display.
The Ballroom: celebrates the fantasy of the Ball, evoking the lavish interiors of the great houses of Britain. Showcasing 70 years of stunning formal evening wear, this section reveals the incredible skill of the Haute Couture ateliers.
L-R: Christian Dior by John Galliano, J’adore, Dress, Haute Couture, 2008 (custom-made for J’adore fragrance) and Christian Dior by John Galliano, Haute Couture, AutumnWinter 2004.
Oriole Cullen, Fashion and Textiles Curator at the V&A, said: “In 1947, Christian Dior changed the face of fashion with his New Look, which redefined the female silhouette and reinvigorated the post-War Parisian fashion industry. The V&A recognised Dior’s important contribution to design history early-on in his career, acquiring his sketches and garments from the 1950s onwards. The influence of Christian Dior’s design was all-pervasive and helped to define an era. In their own individual ways, each of the House’s successive artistic directors have referenced and reinterpreted Dior’s own designs and continued the legacy of the founder, ensuring that the House of Christian Dior is at the forefront of fashion today. More than seventy years after its founding, the V&A’s exhibition celebrates the enduring influence of the House of Dior and reveals Dior’s relationship with Britain.”
The exhibition Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams runs from 2 February – 14 July 2019. Tickets from £20. All concessions: £15 purchasable from www.vam.ac.uk