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Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams

I’ll begin with some words of the designer Christian Dior, talking about our traditions here in Blighty …

“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.”

Today saw the press conference for a very exciting exhibition on it’s way to the V&A Museum. Christian Dior’s name is synonymous with fashion and beauty and if you’re in London next year, then you’re in a for a huge treat.

It’s their biggest fashion exhibition since Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty in 2015.   From 1947 to the present day, the exhibition traces the history and impact of one of the 20th century’s most influential couturiers, and the six artistic directors who have succeeded him, to explore the enduring influence of the fashion house

Based on the major exhibition Christian Dior: Couturier du Rêve it’s been reimagined for the V&A.  A brand-new section explores, for the first time, the designer’s fascination with British culture.

Savoy Hotel

Dior admired the grandeur of the great houses and gardens of Britain, as well as British-designed ocean liners, including the Queen Mary. He also had a preference for Savile Row suits. His first UK fashion show took place at London’s Savoy Hotel, and in 1952 he established Christian Dior London.


The exhibition investigates Dior’s creative collaborations with British manufacturers, including Dents gloves, Rayne shoes, Lyle & Scott knitwear and Mitchel Maer, famous for costume jewellery.  It also focuses on his most notable early British clients, from author Nancy Mitford to ballet dancer Margot Fonteyn.

HRH Princess Margaret

I’ve become a little more inquisitive about Princess Margaret since being hooked on The Crown and the BBC’s wonderful series The Rebel Royal and she was a huge fan of Dior. In fact, a highlight will be the Christian Dior dress worn by Princess Margaret for her 21st birthday celebrations, generously on loan from the Museum of London following conservation work.

Royal photograph by Sir Cecil Beaton (1904 – 1980);[/caption]The exhibition highlights Dior’s total design vision, encompassing garments, accessories and fragrances. Flowers are emblematic of the Couture House and have inspired silhouettes, embroidery and prints, but also the launch of Miss Dior in 1947, the first fragrance created alongside the very first show.

Yves St Laurent

From horticulture to global travel and 18th-century decorative arts, the show reveals the sources of inspiration that defined the House of Dior’s aesthetic. From the daring designs of Yves Saint Laurent to the rational style of Marc Bohan, the flamboyance of Gianfranco Ferré, the exuberance of John Galliano, the minimalism of Raf Simons, and Maria Grazia Chiuri’s feminist vision of fashion, the exhibition shows how each successive artistic director has stayed true to Dior’s vision of Haute Couture, while bringing their own creative sensibilities to the House.

Oriele Cullen, Fashion and Textiles Curator at the V&A

Oriole Cullen said: “In 1947, Christian Dior changed the face of fashion with his New Look, which redefined the female silhouette and reinvigorated the post-War Parisian fashion industry. The V&A recognised Dior’s important contribution to design history early-on in his career, acquiring his sketches and garments from the 1950s onwards. The influence of Christian Dior’s design was all-pervasive and helped to define an era.

In their own individual ways, each of the House’s successive artistic directors has referenced and reinterpreted Dior’s own designs and continued the legacy of the founder, ensuring that the House of Christian Dior is at the forefront of fashion today. More than seventy years after its founding, the V&A’s exhibition celebrates the enduring influence of the House of Dior and reveals Dior’s relationship with Britain.

Christian Dior offers an extended biography on Christian Dior (1905–57), from family life to his early career as a gallery owner and the founding of the House of Dior in 1946. It takes in Dior’s extensive travel, the global success of his couture house and the development of Dior perfumes.

New Look

The New Look focuses on Dior’s famed Bar Suit from his ground-breaking first collection in 1947 and considers how subsequent Dior designers have reinterpreted it over the years.

The Dior Line showcases ten defining looks made between 1947 and 1957, Christian Dior’s own tenure at the House.

It uncovers Christian Dior’s personal love of England and his British client’s reciprocal love for his fashion. Focusing mostly on Dior’s lifetime, it highlights early Dior fashion shows staged in country houses and grand hotels around Britain, the Dior London company and British clients.

Historicism examines the influence of historic dress and decorative arts in the House of Dior’s designs from 1947 to today, encompassing Dior’s love of the 18th century, and the Belle Époque fashions worn by his mother, Madeleine Dior.

Travels explore how travel and different countries and cultures have consistently inspired the various designers at the House of Dior.

The Garden highlights the importance of flowers and gardens as a source of inspiration to the House, from garments to perfume.

Designers for Dior spotlights the work of the subsequent six key artistic directors since Christian Dior’s death in 1957.

The Ateliers showcases toiles from the Dior Ateliers in a ‘cabinet of curiosity’ style installation.

Diorama examines the breadth of the House of Dior, from accessories including costume jewellery, hats, shoes and bags, to illustrations, miniature dresses and archive lipstick and perfume, bottles.

The Ballroom celebrates the fantasy of the Ball, evoking the lavish interiors of the great houses of Britain. It will showcase 70 years of stunning formal evening wear.

Tickets are on sale now from £20.

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams is sponsored by Swarovski and will be in The Sainsbury Gallery.

From 2 February to 14 July.

Tickets are on sale now but hurry – they won’t last long

Did you read 6 Must See Princess Diana Dresses?

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