Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams (Victoria and Albert Museum - London)

I love fashion in the creative sense of the word. I love the history of fashion. I enjoy looking at timeless pieces and seeing the creativity and attention to detail. I also enjoy making my own clothing…things unique to me. There is a beauty and wonderment to carefully constructed garments that does not exist in the overly mass-produced tat that we find on the high street. That’s probably why you may find me at a fashion exhibition, but you’re not likely to entice me out of the house for a spot of retail therapy.

The V&A is currently exhibiting over 200 Haute Couture garments under the title Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams. Tickets for the exhibition have been hard to come by, and it is so popular that the V&A has extended the run until 1st September 2019 and has already sold out (this from its original closing date in July!) You cannot begin to imagine how impatiently I have been counting the days to see this celebratory exhibit of Dior’s couture collection.

The exhibition starts with Dior’s famous Bar Suit “The New Look”, ten of his most famous looks during the period 1947-1957 in “The Dior Line” and the influential role the romanticism of Britain played to his work in “Dior in Britain.” In these first few rooms we get a sense of the former Hollywood glamour of the 40’s and 50’s, and sight of Princess Margaret’s gown that she wore for her 21st birthday portrait.

The house of Dior has had many artistic
directors, and so the displays start to feature works by both Dior and his successors, such as Yves St Laurent, John Galliano and Chiuri. What more fitting way to start our travels through these various works, than by visiting different countries. The next section featured pieces which were inspired by trips to places including Egypt, Mexico and Japan.   

From the dark space of the travel section, the display opens up into a magical, romantic garden of wonderment. “The Garden Room” is a delight for the senses. Paper roses, wisteria, clematis and lily of the valley tumble from the ceiling creating an exquisite backdrop for a number of dresses you’d be happy to take afternoon tea in!

After the magic of the fairy-tale garden we are transported down a vibrant colourful corridor of accessories, shoes and miniature dresses, all in colour-coded sections. Opposite this “Diormama” on the other wall are magazine covers of Dior’s work from 1947 to today.

Just when you think you have seen it all, you are whisked into “The Ballroom” a room filled with ball gowns and dresses for a star-studded red carpet. It is a room full of dreams celebrating the very best that glamour can offer. From the extravagant Galliano creations, to the gold gowns Charlize Theron wore in the J’adore perfume adverts, this room was one where you had to sit down to take it all in. No only were the gowns theatrical, but the clever use of mood lighting changed this room from a brightly lit room with a Michelangelo style ceiling, to a room filled with glittering stars which shimmered from the ceiling and down the walls. The curator Oriole Cullen and set designer Nathalie Crinière certainly know how to steal someone’s breath away.

This must be the best exhibition of a fashion designers work that I have seen. Not only were you allowed to take photographs, but the majority of the collection was not housed behind glass, this meant you could actually take photographs of the dresses rather than reflections of yourself…although there were areas where mirrors were used and you sometimes got caught out! Every twist and turn of the gallery meant that you were transported to a new venue that was even more impressive than the last. The exhibit flowed beautifully, and even though it was busy, there was still the opportunity to take your time and look at the creations that held the most interest. This was a beautiful experience, and one not to be missed!

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