Designer Dreams by Dior in London's Victoria and Albert Museum

Designer Dreams by Dior in London's Victoria and Albert Museum

The largest Dior retrospective opens in London this week with over 150 pieces never before exhibited.

The largest Dior retrospective opens in London this week with over 150 pieces never before exhibited.

Text: Paul Madley

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams opened this week in London at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The exhibition is based on the 2017 show from the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, and is the largest Dior exhibit ever to be held in the UK. The french exhibition attracted over 700,000 visitors and is expected to have the same pull for the V&A. This is the V&A’s largest fashion exhibition since 2015’s Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, which was also the most successful exhibition in the museums history, attracting a record number of visitors.

The exhibition explores the rich history of the French Couture House, from Mr. Dior’s beginnings to his love of country gardens, English sensibilities and the Iconic ‘New Look’. The exhibition also focuses on the breathtaking talents of his incredible successors, Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohen, Gianfranco Ferrè, John Galliano, Raf Simons and current Creative Director Maria Grazia Chiuri. The show examines the impact each designer has had on the house of Dior.

The exhibition is beautifully designed, it’s features awe-inspiring sets that play with light and darkness. There is a white room, filled with white toiles (echoing Dior ateliers, where the dreams begin) a black corridor lit with white strobe lights and, the iconic ‘Dior grey’ (synonymous with the original Maison) is used throughout. Accessories and miniatures are presented in a rainbow of color while one room is filled with white paper flowers. Each room contains such astonishing beauty and elegance, that the clothes evoke emotion. The exhibitions feels like an experience, like an event, It is immersive.

There is also a real focus on the designer’s relationship with Britain, “There is no other country in the world, besides my own, whose way of life I like so much. I love English traditions, English politeness, English architecture… I even love English cooking,” Dior once said. “There are many elements in Dior's style that come from British culture”, commented Maria Grazia Chiuri.

One of Dior's biggest British fans was a young, rebellious Princess Margaret. The Courtier and Princess first met in Paris in the summer of ‘49 and quickly became friends. Margaret was photographed by the great photographer Cecil Beaton, wearing an ivory chiffon, embroidered, Dior ball gown for her official 21st birthday portrait. Princess Margaret championed Dior and was guest of honor at Dior’s charity fashion show, famously held at Blenheim Palace. The ladies of Britain were soon able to emulate Margaret's style, when in 1952 Dior partnered with Harrods to create a ready-to-wear line based on his couture collections. Dior ready-to-wear was available across England, in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle.

We took a look at the best moments from the exhibition.

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