The Musée des Arts Décoratifs is celebrating 70 years of house Dior from July 5, 2017 to January 7, 2018. This grandiose and all-encompassing exhibition takes the visitors on a journey through the universe of House Dior, its founder and the famous designers who inherited his legacy, Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and the latest successor Maria Grazia Chiuri.
It is no longer a big surprise to have a big museum organizing an exhibition dedicated to fashion legends. Now it is obvious – fashion is part of the history of our time!
We are much more surprised when faced with seventy years of a fashion house that refected all the transformations the world had experienced in the meantime. Try and imagine all the articles, objects and stories which bear witness to all the secrets of House Dior universe piled up during the latter half of the previous century and the whole length of the XXI century so far. Te work of custodians, Florence Müller and Olivier Gabet, was certainly not easy. Not just because of the exciting archeological work of digging through endless quantities of data, but because they were tasked with putting all this data into a coherent story. Their choice was to present the history of Dior both chronologically and thematically, and for the first time, they used a very special place inside the Museum, the so called Nave, a 3000-square-meters space.
Do not doubt it – from the choice of objects, the space itself, to breath-taking installations and light effects – each detail is impressive.
The exhibition opens with the story of Dior’s life, his youth and ties with art and artists. During the crazy exciting 20s, Dior, like most of Europe at that time, was introduced to the avant-garde!
If you didn’t already know this, between 1928 and 1934, before entering the world of high fashion, Dior ran an art gallery in Paris, together with two of his friends Jacques Bonjean and Pierre Colle. His closest circle of friends at the time included then-unknown future stars such as Giacometti, Dalí, Calder, Leonor Fini, Max Jacob, Jean Cocteau and Christian Bérard. Te exhibition thus included paintings, sculptures and documents from this important period in his personal history, but also the history of 20th-century art.
Te custodians have gone to great lengths to show us the link between Christian Dior, his artistic affnities and his creations.
The journey through this exhibition reveals direct references to paintings and sculptures, but also everything else that makes up the art of living: wallpapers, fabrics, ceramics. Beside obvious affnity toward the latest, most daring and most uncompromising work, Dior was quite fond of antique pieces and decorative art objects. He was a passionate collector of Art Nouveau and was captivated by the 18th century. In other words – very eclectic!
When you combine that with his basic occupation, a fashion illustrator, and the ambition to succeed in the world of high fashion, it is no wonder his closeness to art was the thing that left the most memorable impact in his creative identity. As someone who adored museums, Dior became the favorite topic of research by fashion connoisseurs, trying to understand a specific look of his creations or all the links he had made between the worlds of high fashion and all forms of art.
This exhibition has presented a collection of over 300 dresses designed during the last 70 years, and they are all connected by a singular narrative thread. Te custodians brought out emotions, human stories, affnities, inspirations, creations and heritage.
Beside dresses, also on display are a wide variety of fabrics and fashion photographs, hundreds of personal documents, including illustrations, sketches, documentary photographs, letters and notes, as well as adverts, fashion accessories, hats, jewelry, handbags, shoes and perfumes.
The universe created by Christian Dior and six other artistic directors who succeeded him and built the name and the influence that represented the very embodiment of high fashion, is marvelously presented at this monumental exhibition. It also presents the work of all those who contributed their artistic sensibilities in order to define the style and vocabulary that is now known as house Dior! People who participated in Dior’s artistic explorations, like Frédéric Castet, who worked on fur design, Serge Lutens, Tyen and Peter Philips, but also François Demachy, a perfumer.
The exhibition is certainly a journey through time. From 1947 to 2017, the world experienced numerous transformations. Dior was an innovator in the world of fashion. He introduced his esthetic and kick-started the golden age of fashion.
A lot has changed in the meantime, but the energy of brand Dior and its heritage are intact. It is interesting to note that, during its 70 years of existence, now commemorated by this exhibition, Dior headed the famous fashion house for only ten years. From 1957 until now, house Dior has been lead by 6 different designers and each of them have been given a special gallery as part of this exhibition, in an attempt to analyze in what way and how much their creations remained faithful to Dior’s vision of high fashion. These designers are certainly all different when it comes to their approach. For example, Yves Saint Laurent showed a lot of daring compared to a much more rational approach of Marc Bohan. Tis is followed by an exuberant Gianfranco Ferré, and then an even more dramatic era of fashion punk with John Galliano. Next, there is the minimalist twist of Raf Simons and, lastly, the feminist vision of fashion that was brought by Maria Grazia Chiuri. And who knows what’s next!
Most of the objects on display at this exhibition belong to Dior Héritage collection and had never been shown before in Paris.