Off To The V&A For A Little Dior, Part I

We’ve arrived in London and we’re ready to roll! Today, it’s off we go to the Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibit at the V&A Museum. Opening in January, this exhibit has been especially popular and has been extended from May to September 2019 and currently is sold out (we were lucky to have bought our tickets online back in January). The exhibit is a retrospective of Dior’s work along with his successors who designed under the House of Dior name following Dior’s death in 1958.

It’s quite a revolution, dear Christian! Your dresses have such a new look!

– Carmel Snow, Editor-in-Chief, Harper’s Bazaar, February 12, 1947

So where to start? The volume of garments on display, along with other supporting items,  is simply staggering…well, let’s start at the beginning. 🙂 First up is the quintessential “Bar Suit” or “New Look” dress from Dior’s 1947 collection that put Dior on the map:

While it may seem pretty ho-hum by today’s mega-event standards, the New Look marked the beginning of a new era of fashion and a major departure of the war-influenced styles that had dominated most of 1940s fashion. It also marked the re-emergence of France as the fashion capital of the world, free from the deprivations of the war years (at least in theory). Officially named La Ligne Corolle by Dior, it was more often referred as the “New Look Dress” and that’s how it’s known today. Also, Dior referred to this outfit as the “Bar Suit” because it was intended to be worn in elegant public places such as bars (at least, that’s the best definition that we’ve been able to find). Just for some context, here’s a picture of the Bar Suit in action:

Live Model

Also, here’s some “official” photos of the suit itself:

Christian Dior, Skirt Suit, 1955 (V&A Museum; T.376&A-1960); Interestingly enough, this particular example was made in 1955.

As can be seen from the above, this suit was based on extreme curves characterized by  a wasp waist created by a waist cincher combined with a skirt supported by a large petticoat. In this design, one can see several elements that were part of 1880s and 90s styles and all share the common characteristic that they were sculpted over rigid underpinnings. OK, admittedly we’ve gone a tad overboard with the Dior Bar Suit so we’ll pause at this point…but stay tuned for more!

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