CHRISTIAN DIOR: COUTURIER DU REVE
So I know I really hyped up my day on Tuesday as the best day spent in Paris, but I've come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a so-called best day because they keep getting better and better. In fact I think I just topped Tuesday. I went to the largest couture exhibit to ever be displayed in Paris and it was absolutely divine.
My peers and I were fortunate enough to get a private tour of the exhibit, 'Christian Dior: Couturier du Rêve' at Le Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Paris. And...Oh. Mon. Dieu. It was the most surreal exhibit and display of couture items I have ever seen in my entire life. Wow. I was blown away and nearly brought to tears. Yes, I'm an emotional person and I'm not ashamed. I was truly moved. The vision, the work, the artistic motifs...I have such an appreciation for Dior after seeing this. The exhibit was financed by the house of Dior which it why it was so extravagant.
There was a selection of over 300 (!!!) haute couture gowns designed between 1947 and the present by the amazing Christian Dior and the distinguished couturiers who succeeded him: Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons, and Maria Grazia Chiuri. In addition to dresses there were fashion illustrations, mood boards used by the couturiers, sketches, documentary photographs, letters, notes, advertising documents, accessories such as hats, jewelry, bags, shoes and perfume bottles. There were also selected paintings, furniture, objects of art and ancient items alongside pieces, since Dior was an art lover and many of his successors were inspired by various eras, international locations and pieces of art.
The purpose, in my opinion, of this exhibit was to show how Christian Dior and his entire couture house was truly inspired by art and the art hidden in everyday ways of life. Dior grew up in the Villa des Rhumbs in Granville and took great inspiration from the littlest of things, including his mother's gardens. His mother was a talented landscaper and created lavish gardens at his childhood home. It is seen throughout Dior's career that he was inspired by flowers and always believed the woman, or 'la femme' to be like a beautiful flower. Dior is most notably known for giving women back their femininity through the New Look.
Dior is known for his two defining looks: the New Look, also known as the Corelle, and the H Line look. The New Look is arguably his most famous, characterized by the nipped-in waist, rounded shoulders and full skirt. The H Line also featured a nipped-in waist, but was figure-hugging and emphasized the bust. Recreations of these looks can be seen throughout the many years of the Dior house, with various Couturiers taking inspiration from them. The New Look has even inspired and been recreated by 26 designers from outside the Dior house. Dior was also known for giving each of his dresses a poetic, romantic name, for exploring with a wide array of color, and for being inspired by pieces of art, or even drawings and cabinets.
Though all the couturiers who succeeded him had their own distinctive style, they all represented different essences of what it meant to be la maison Christian Dior. Dior was the most practical of the couturiers and made clothes appropriate for different moments of life for women, such as a city dress, a cocktail dress, and a theater dress in one collection.
Succeeding him was Yves Saint Laurent in 1958, who had a similar creative process to Dior, but he revolutionized less traditional shapes, such as the A line style, babydoll dress. Saint Laurent shocked the industry when he designed a haute couture leather jacket for women and was subsequently fired.
In 1960, Marc Bohan was appointed and as a response to the Saint Laurent backlash and he kept things quite sober.
Things remained this way until 1989 when Gianfranco Ferré came in and made incredibly colorful sketches, as he was a painter, and designed extremely extravagent looks.
After Ferré came the infamous John Galliano in 1996, who modernized Dior. He made moodboards, was structural and extravagent.
Once he was let go, Raf Simons soberized the brand again in 2012 with his minimalist style, until finally in 2016 Maria Grazia Chiuri, the first female creative director to lead Dior started a new era. She has brought femininity back to Dior, has begun naming the dresses again and making dreamy, classic pieces.
It was incredible to be walked through the many years of Dior and the different personalities the brand has taken on under various couturiers. There was also an incredible room dedicated to ballgowns and dresses worn by stars, a room showcasing Dior's use of color, sections displaying pieces inspired by art, a room dedicated to internationally-inspired collections and even to Miss Dior, the famous perfume. Overall it was the most exquisite exhibit experience and I will never be able to express its beauty in words or in photographs.