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

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As you have no doubt discerned from our past two posts, the Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibit at the V&A Museum has exerted quite a powerful influence over us- it’s a rich treasure trove of ideas and inspiration to us even though it’s got nothing to do with the late 19th Century. Or does it? Well, fashion has always been influenced by history and the fashion cycle itself is a constant movement of styles, inspired by the past (as well as the present) and the House of Dior is no exception. Here are just a few examples from the exhibition:

Ancient Egypt, anyone? 🙂 Designed in 2004 by John Galiano, this one is definitely more of a couture “concept piece” than anything else. Here’s another view of it in action:

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Or, perhaps, the 18th and Centuries:

The coat could almost work for pure 18th Century dress… 🙂

This one just has us thinking “panniers”…

With this one, we see a melding of 18th and 19th Century influences, especially with the corset bodice and draping.

With this dress, it’s more about the fabric than anything else- The fabric and trim detail could easily have been seen on either an 18th or 19th Century dress and especially something by Worth. Next, we see an 18th Century silhouette that inspired this creation by John Galiano for the House of Dior:

The beading and trim on this dress are simply exquisite. Here’s a close-up view:

Or perhaps some Chinoiserie…

And then there’s the grand finale, there’s a ball room displaying various evening wear, complete with a rotating center display combined with changing light to simulate day and night (the full rotation takes about five minutes of so) and the effect is stunning! What’s especially interesting is that the colors of some of the dresses dramatically changed as the light changed from day to night (Note: in full disclosure, I was unable to get good pictures of the ballroom that capture the magnitude and sweep of the room so I borrowed a few pictures from the web).

 

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And here’s my favorite that I took:

With that, we conclude our tour of the Dior exhibit at the V&A. Overall, the experience was excellent, especially since we were there in the morning when it first opened so we didn’t have to contend with heavy crowds. There was a lot more than what we’ve posted, we focused on some of the highlights that we were particularly struck by. This is definitely worth a visit but if you were unable to view it in person, we highly recommend getting the book:

 

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We hope you’ve enjoyed these posts! 🙂

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

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And the journey continues in the Land of Dior, aka the Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibit at the V&A Museum…one of the most striking things about the exhibit was that it was not only a sampling of Dior’s works as well as his successors, but it also gave some insight into the design and production process. All too often, fashion exhibitions make it look like garments are seemingly created out of thin air…well, they’re not and the exhibit documented this quite well:

It first starts with sketches…lots of sketches…and then fabrics are selected:

And before any fashion fabrics is cut, a toille or mock-up was created to ensure that garment fit properly. Here is what we call the Wall of Toilles:

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Just to appreciate the magnitude of “The Wall of Toilles,” here’s a more full picture, courtesy of the V&A Museum.

This display filled all four sides in a separate room from floor to ceiling (it was at least 50 feet high) and was simply impressive- this is an aspect of  haute couture that’s almost never seen nor discussed in a museum setting, It’s definitely thought-provoking and good to see. Stay tuned for more…

 

 

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!