Dior: The Magic Never Wanes
Dior—Dior—Dior—Dior—Dior. No matter how many times you say his name, the magic never wanes. Christian Dior.
From the Dior exhibit at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris (on until January 7 2018), I concluded that Dior’s sole purpose was to celebrate women femininity. His only political statement to make them beautiful and happy. “My prime inspiration is the shape of the female body,” said Dior, “for it is the duty of the couturier to adopt the female form as his point of departure and use the materials at his disposal so as to enhance its natural beauty.”
The dress loves the model
This is evident in the style of his runway shows which were limited to two ingredients: the model and the dress, in total symbiosis. The model inhabits the dress, makes it sway and move. The dress loves the of the hips, elongate the bust, highlight the curve of the arm.
Although his clothes could only be afforded by the very wealthy, he created a style with which women all identified – graceful clean lines that celebrated the female shape. Women were proud of their body, showing it off without ever exposing it.
Christian Dior said “my most passionate and impassionate affairs are my dresses.” And yet, he was the inventor of the seasonal fashion cycle, the father of products licensing, brand management. I wonder what his feelings would be towards the utterly consumption driven fashion industry of today, that has mostly forgotten dresses and women and dedicates its energy to solely producing in ever greater quantities.
Christian Dior’s vision of women was inspired by his passion for gardens and rose beds. We learn that he got his love for nature from “the Granville family garden, perched on the cliffs of the Normandy coast, overlooking the Channel and scoured by the wind. This bucolic oasis created by his mother Madeleine gave Christian Dior a taste of paradise and a love of flowers that stayed with him throughout his life.” (“Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams” by Florence Muller).
The exhibit takes us to his enchanting world through a fantastical décor of delicate flowers, abundant and lush garlands of wisteria grapes brought to life by clever lighting.
The House of Dior was created 70 years ago and its spirit has been preserved by the illustrious couturiers who succeeded Christian Dior. Their work is beautifully displayed in chronological order. Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and, most recently, Maria Grazia Chiuri all have significant pieces present at the exhibit. All, at one time or another, paid homage to the flowers of Christian Dior.
One iconic dress amongst many is the “Armide” dress of Yves Saint Laurent – a jewel of delicate crystal embroidery, cinched waist and narrow hem that you can admire in this video.
By the end of the visit we think in pink and flowers, other worldly outfits and jaw dropping elegance. The exhibit ends in the nave of the museum where we experience the most extraordinary display of ball gowns in a virtual reconstruction of a night at the ball in the flamboyant Versailles Galerie des Glaces. Cinderella should have met Monsieur Dior.
An exhibit of Dior’s pieces from 1947 to 1957 will open at the ROM at the end of November—not to be missed as those are the true Dior years. I will be organising a private viewing of the collection. Please email email@example.com if you are interested as space will be limited.
Images: Maison Dior, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Nora Osbaldeston & Isabelle Fish