To celebrate seventy years of The House of Dior, the National Gallery of Victoria hosted an exclusive exhibition of Dior Haute Couture from 1947 to 2017. The vast collection showcased 140 exquisite pieces ranging from a glittering sequinned jumpsuit to formal red carpet gowns to ultra-modern gravity defying creations.
The exhibition was laid out like a timeline, beginning with the classic silhouettes and modest designs of the 1940’s all the way through to the visionary creations for the modern era. While tracing the history of the luxury fashion house there was a noticeable fluctuation of style as you progressed through the exhibition, from the iconic designs of Christian Dior himself, to Yves Saint Laurent, John Galliano, and the first female head designer, Maria Grazia Chiuri. While times inevitably change and fashions evolve, Dior always seems classic no matter how outlandish or bold, remaining eternally trés chic forever and always.
I particularly loved the historical paraphernalia surrounding Dior’s relationship with Australia. David Jones held a Dior parade in 1948 to launch the full spring collection. This was no small event, as it was the first time one of Dior’s collections were shown outside of the fashion capital of Paris. Little did I know that Dior had such a strong affection for Australia, with a second show scheduled for the 1950’s – organised by David Jones and the Australian Women’s Weekly. Christian Dior passed away in 1957 before the show came to fruition, but despite this, over eighty unique pieces were sent to Australia and Dior’s final collection went on without him. Some of the designs in this collection were named Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra, a tell-tale sign that Australia was a source of love and inspiration for Dior.
Apart from the spectacular chandeliers hanging throughout the exhibit, each display is centred solely around the clothing, the true stars of the show. The intricacies of the designs were accentuated by the fact that you could get up close to most of the designs. The very special ones were safely guarded behind glass, but a vast majority were at arms length – just no touching allowed. Seriously though, every piece was made with such precision and expert craftsmanship. There was not a single pearl or bead out of place, nor a stitch in sight, every design was a true feat of inspired artistry, imagination, and creative engineering.
The exhibition will be showing from 27 August to 7 November 2017 at the National Gallery of Victoria, with special Friday night drinks with music.