As one of the most popular exhibitions to date, Christian Dior and the influence of the fashion house has taken the V&A by storm, Supporters of the brand and curious individuals alike are not only hoping to obtain an understanding of Christian Dior himself but the couture house that has continued to evolve through the years, using its signature style to drive fashion in new and creative directions through its longstanding heritage and a team of designers that have made the brand what it is today. Split into eleven rooms under a variety of contrasting themes, the exhibition is home to over 200 rare Haute Couture garments whilst complimentary accessories, photography, illustrations, and the designer’s own personal possessions are a sight for sore eyes.
Taking inspiration from his travels, Christian Dior inspired a change in fashion, especially in Europe where his designs were considered bespoke and daring, a combination of art and design that was unlike anything anyone had ever seen before. The brand continues to focus heavily on culture within its heritage and the exhibition reflects this in great detail.
Initially, ‘The New Look‘ was at the heart of the exhibition, reflecting styles that celebrated the curves of the female form as a contrast to the boxy cuts that had previously been popular, especially during the war. Dior’s early pieces appeared to focus greatly on structured cuts and a smaller waistline that idealised the hourglass form to an extent that would not be glorified today.
Throughout the exhibition, there is a clear recognition towards the importance the brand places upon craftsmanship, especially within the room dedicated to toiles. Supporting film footage compliments a variety of bespoke prototypes, showing couture staff working carefully on a variety of garments. Such attention to detail is inspiring, especially as these were initial design ideas that later became the beautiful gowns seen in the other rooms.
One of the most beautiful rooms in the exhibition is completely devoted to evening gowns, a ballroom atmosphere that is lit by a planetarium style ceiling. This allows the gowns to sparkle under the soft lighting, an orchestra playing in the background to add to the existing ambience. Here, the garments really come to life, and dresses worn by celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence and Rihanna stand out in all their glory.
The Garden Room is an exquisite source of inspiration, focusing heavily on a floral theme that is projected across the scenery where an installation of paper flowers form the backdrop for Dior’s most delicate and intricate pieces. Displays consist of hand-constructed silk and satin garments, layered with floral shapes and motives across boned bodices and full, fluid skirts. Whilst the garments themselves appear light, almost floating off the ground, layers of detailed embroidery keep each piece grounded with designs that are bold and daring yet remain feminine and elegant.
There is no doubt that the exhibition is worth a visit, reflecting the amount of influence seven decades of craftsmanship has nurtured. It is clear that there is not only a love for the brand but an intrigue into the man who started it all – Christian Dior. With his appreciation for culture, intricacy of design, and the female form, he was forward-thinking and constantly inspired to create unique designs that to this day, will never go out of style. If you do get a chance to visit, the exhibition really is a dream. A vast variety of engaging displays celebrate how far the fashion house has come and the beautiful way in which it continues to prosper.