It is difficult to know where to begin when talking about the joy that was the ‘Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams’ exhibition at the V&A. As soon as I saw that the V&A were putting this on, I knew I needed to book immediately and so had been waiting for the day (last Saturday) to come around for months, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Dreamy dresses for days, stunning collections of artefacts and the story behind one of the best design houses there has ever been, carefully curated and beautifully executed.
Over the years we have been to several ‘special’ exhibitions at the V&A, including the immense ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ a few years ago, and they are always worth the trip. They don’t do their main exhibitions by halves and this exhibition was a fully immersive Dior experience from the get go. Each room, a set for the artefacts and garments to shine out from.
The exhibition began with the history of the man himself, working through his journey creating the house of Dior. It then moved through specifically themed rooms of garments, artefacts, videos and information.
One of my favourite things about how the exhibition was put together was that the work of the different creative directors, from Dior himself to Galliano & Simons, was all mixed together to create an overall celebration of the legacy of the design house. 1950s dresses sat next to ones from collections as recent as AW18, and the mix was enchanting.
Possibly my favourite of all the incredible rooms was The Garden Room (below), which contained dresses inspired by flowers in the natural world. The house has certainly found a huge amount of inspiration in the blooms as time has gone on. The room was dressed with thousands of paper flower decorations, lit beautifully and it felt like such a magical space. The dresses were so light in the space and the floral scent of the room just topped off the experience.
Another of my favourite rooms was the room pictured above, filled with display cases of toiles – it was a world of white. As I understand it, a toile is a sort of mock up of a garment that tests out what the finished piece may be like, before you start cutting up the expensive fabrics! This room really showed the elegance and structure of the shapes used in Dior’s work. This aspect of the fashion process was something I had never seen before and I was so pleased that the process of the clothes being created was given space.
From making to magazines. You all know how much I love a magazine, so to have a wall showcasing many of the covers that Dior’s designs have graced, from Vogue to The Gentlewoman, and everything inbetween, was a great exhibition feature. I think it helped to show the true scale, timelessness and love that the world has for this designer.
Coming to a close. The final large room in the exhibition was a mass of elaborate ballgowns, fit for a red carpet near you (my favourite was the Constellations dress). As you stood in the room, or sat as we did, the whole place slowly transitioned from night to day using lighting and projections. It was amazing to see the colours of the dresses illuminating and glowing in the day and sparkling by the light of the ‘stars’. The music was magical and full of wonder, and I think we could have sat in that room all day.
Unfortunately, that brings us to the end of the exhibition. I hope my ramblings and photographs have helped take you on a walk around the wonderful (now sold out) Christian Dior exhibition. Next up, a trip back down to London to see the Mary Quant exhibition!
What has been the best exhibition that you’ve ever visited? I think this one is pretty high on my list!