Things to do in London this February
As you know Style Cartel loves fashion and culture, so when we were invited to the V&A to view the Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams we planned our outfits and packed gadgets. I for one love Haute Couture and Christian Dior the designer of dreams.
That is what Haute Couture is all about. This was better than attending a Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture show. This exhibition is a chance to get up close and personal with Dior gowns, but also a chance to learn a little fashion history. The exhibition opened to the public today. From the
Dior: Designer of Dreams at theV&A
The much-anticipated House of Dior V&A exhibition is a breath-taking invitation to enter the world of haute couture and a welcome escape from our everyday doldrums. This is truly is a ticket to view high fashion that you might never get elsewhere. Let’s be honest, under normal circumstances, the closest most of us will ever get to an haute couture gown is scrolling through tiny images on our Instagram feed or in a print magazine. Oh, but Style Cartel has had lucky golden ticket during Haute Couture week and we are grateful!
Now the V&A give you the golden ticket lovers of fashion want, Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, which has transformed the cavernous Sainsbury Gallery, offering a glimpse into the rarefied world of one of the world’s most famous fashion houses.
Inspired by the Parisian exhibition Christian Dior: Couturier du Rêve held at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in 2017, Designer of Dreams has been re-imagined and updated to offer London fashion lovers a holly experience. A wealth of new content has been selected from the archives of the V&A and other British fashion museums, as well as private collectors and the House of Dior itself.
Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams
When Christian Dior debuted his New Look in 1947, it was viewed as a shocking antidote to post-war austerity. Oriole Cullen, Fashion and Textiles Curator at the V&A, sees this exhibition as something of an antidote to the Brexit doom and gloom, providing a much-needed opportunity for escapism.
The New Look remains a key focus, but this exhibition is certainly not stuck in the past. Rather, it unites designs from the seven decades of the storied house, including those governed by current artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri who has won plaudits for her modern, feminist interpretation.
The exhibition is split into 11 sections, focussing on themes such as Travel, Historicism, and the Garden, while the addition of Dior in Britain explores the designer’s love of London and how important his British clients became when establishing his business. Perhaps the most notable of these was Princess Margaret, whose 21st birthday couture gown is displayed here, alongside the Cecil Beaton portrait that commemorated the event.
Designer of Dreams
‘Interestingly Beaton changed the colour in the photograph,’ explained Cullen. ‘He bleached out the dress and made the embroidery look silver when actually it’s very yellowy-gold. It was fun to show the real garment beside the Beaton-esque idealised portrait of a pure princess in bright white.’
The gown is one of the standout pieces in the exhibition – not only for the beautiful golden hand-embroidered flourishes that flow across the full skirt, which falls just-so from the impossibly tiny waist – but for the history behind it. ‘
When Dior wrote about Princess Margaret, he said the public was obsessed with her,’ says Cullen, explaining the significance of the relationship. ‘She personified youth, glamour and the future – leaving behind the war. And so for Dior to be dressing her was a dream, he writes about how the press was obsessed with her and you can totally see why.’
Designed to compliment the theme and content of each of the rooms, the staging includes highlights such as the Garden room, which is resplendent with a veritable hanging garden of paper flowers. This echoes Monsieur Dior’s love of roses and lily of the valley, as well as the ambitious floral catwalk displays that came to characterise Raf Simons’ tenure at the house.
The Diorama room is another feat of presentation; a vast colour-coded glass cabinet that brings together hats, shoes, bags and costume jewellery with illustrations, ephemera and miniature gowns replicating the mood boards that designers make when creating a collection.
The culmination of the exhibition is The Ballroom, which uses an ever-changing light display to showcase formal evening wear from the seven decades of Dior. ‘When we speak about the ball we need to find the best way to make a ball,’ says Crinière. ‘As soon as you put dresses on display they are fixed in time, and that can be sad.
So with light, you give the idea of life and the dresses become as if they were supported by women because the light is moving. The idea is to replicate the day, with light moving from morning to evening and night – it’s a good way of seeing it with different eyes.’
Crinière has carefully designed the space to feel grand and imposing like a ballroom, yet manages to achieve a closeness at the same time: ‘In a way, it is quite intimate, and you can sit and dream – this is what I want visitors to do.’
|WHAT||Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, V&A review|
|WHERE||V&A, South Kensington, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL | MAP|
|NEAREST TUBE||South Kensington (underground)|
|WHEN||02 Feb 19 – 14 Jul 19, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM|