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Inside Dior’s ‘Designer of Dreams’ V&A museum exhibition

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Christian Dior presents its ‘Designer of Dreams’ exhibition, which pays homage to Britain, the country Christian Dior himself fell in love with upon his first visit to perfect his English. The collections showcased inside the Victoria and Albert Museum (New Amanda Levete-designed galleries) embodies everything Christian Dior stood for as a designer during his period as creative director and also honors collections made by past creative directors, who succeeded him at the fashion house after his demise.

The Designer of Dreams, led by fashion and textiles curator Oriole Cullen and set designer Nathalie Criniere, is the first fashion exhibition to be staged in the V&A museum center, and the largest of its kind at the museum since Alexander McQueen; Savage Beauty in 2015.

The first room exhibits ‘The new Look’, a focus on Dior’s famed Bar suit, ‘The Dior Line’- Dior’s ten defining looks from his 1947 and 1957 tenure at the house, and ‘Dior in Britain’- the romance Dior embraced because it made business sense. The room also has in it looks Dior created for clients during his tenure as the house creative director, such as ensembles worn by Margot Fonteyn (a sequin-encrusted Hollywood spring/summer 50 gown that represented Dior’s experimental phase in the 40s), the Nonette suit Dior made for house model Jean Dawnay and the princess creation Magaret wore in her 21st birthday portrait.

The second phase of the exhibition shelves in it, the off-white gown with straw, raffia and the mother of pearl embellishments carefully placed next to the Cecil Beaton photography, for the purpose of showing the difference between the real copy and Beaton’s artistic interpretation.

The fourth part talks of the themes that inspired him. ‘The Travels’ part looks at the idea of cultural appreciation and what it means today, ‘The Garden’ room inhabits a sensory delight with paper wisteria, clematis lily of the Valley and Princess Margaret-roses cascading from the ceiling, and ‘The Diorama’ is the curiosity closet of colour-coded accessories, trinkets and 123 magazine covers from 1947 to the present day look.

The last of the exhibition showcase holds ‘The Ballroom’, which experiments with all the glam, the all-out unbashed celebration of the glamour Dior and the fantasy that’s contained within a ballroom. It houses, the liquid-gold numbers Hollywood star Charlize Theron wore in the J’adore fragrance adverts during her 20 years as brand ambassador, the first dress Galliano designed at the helm of the house for Princess Diana to wear in 1996, as well as other Galliano designs during his time.

Speaking of the exhibition in honor of Britain, now creative director for Dior Maria Grazia Chiuri, explained to Vogue, ” The relationship between Monsieur Dior and British culture is fascinating. He came here because he wanted to be free. It’s the same story of many. Britain is a place that is strongly about freedom and this comes across in fashion. I’m lucky to have this important legacy to move the brand forward.”

Chiuri also commented on the displayed ensembles, saying,”When you see fashion presented like this, you can reflect on it  in a different way. Fashion is not an image, i’s an experience, and the exhibition is a beautiful experience. I hope to speak about all the women around the world in a contemporary way. We’re all different, we all have different styles, but Dior is a place where all women can find a place.”

Written by: Larry Adams

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