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CHRISTIAN DIOR, COUTURIER DU RÊVE from 5 July 2017 to 7 January 2018

from 5 July 2017 to 7 January 2018

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the creation of the House of Dior. This lavish and comprehensive exhibition invites visitors on a voyage of discovery through the universe of the House of Dior’s founder and the illustrious couturiers who succeeded him: Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and, most recently, Maria Grazia Chiuri.

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the creation of the House of Dior from 5 July 2017 to 7 January 2018. This lavish and comprehensive exhibition invites visitors on a voyage of discovery through the universe of the House of Dior’s founder and the illustrious couturiers who succeeded him: Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and, most recently, Maria Grazia Chiuri. The selection of over 300 haute couture gowns designed between 1947 and the present day has a unifying thread of emotions, life stories, affinities, inspirations, creations and legacies. Alongside the dresses is the most wide-ranging display to date of atelier toiles and fashion photographs, as well as hundreds of documents, including illustrations, sketches, documentary photographs, letters and notes and advertising documents, and fashion accessories, including hats, jewellery, bags, shoes and perfume bottles. Reflecting the fact that Christian Dior was also a knowledgeable art lover who adored museums, designs from over 70 years interact with a selection of paintings, furniture and objets d’art. These works highlight and develop Christian Dior’s outlook by exploring the ties he forged between couture and all forms of art, defining the House of Dior’s enduring influence. The two curators, Florence Müller and Olivier Gabet, convey their message with a chronological and themed exhibition design that inhabits and brings together the museum’s fashion areas and the nave for the first time, a space of almost 3,000 square meters.

Christian Dior, Opéra Bouffe gown, Haute Couture, Fall-Winter 1956
Aimant line Short evening gown in silk faille by Abraham. Paris, Dior Héritage.
© Photo Les Arts Décoratifs / Nicholas Alan Cope

The last Parisian retrospective dedicated to Christian Dior was held in 1987 at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. It focused on ten years of the couturier’s designs, from 1947 to 1957. To celebrate the House of Dior’s seventieth anniversary, the new retrospective shows how Christian Dior and the six artistic directors who followed on his heels devised the brand and built up the influence of a name that is the very embodiment of haute couture in France and throughout the world. Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and today’s director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, have all drawn on their own creative sensibilities to formulate a style and a vocabulary that stay true to the original concept and to help define the House of Dior’s identity through the prism of its relationship to its era. This exploration of haute couture is enriched with Frédéric Castet’s fashion fur designs, beauty creations by Serge Lutens, Tyen and Peter Philips, as well as perfume creations by François Demachy.

A leading figure in the world of 20th-century fashion once he launched his New Look spring/summer collection in 1947, Christian Dior took the feminine shape in a totally new direction, relegating the masculine silhouette of the war years to the past. His dresses expressed a modern femininity, incarnated by his flower woman and producing a shape characterised by flowing curves and the bearing of a classical ballet dancer. The New Look featured soft shoulders, accentuated busts, nipped-in waists and hips amplified by swirling corolla-like skirts. Christian Dior relaunched the textile industry with his insistence on the use of great swaths of fabric, a controversial move after the years of shortage under the Occupation. He succeeded in breathing new life into the couture tradition, giving a central role to embroiderers and craftspeople making costume jewellery and accessories. He invented an internationally-focused couture that put Paris back in the spotlight as the capital of fashion.

Christian Dior, Junon gown, Haute Couture, Fall-Winter 1949, Milieu du siècle line
Long crinoline evening dress embroidered with sequins by Rébé. Paris, Dior Héritage.
© Photo Les Arts Décoratifs / Nicholas Alan Cope

The exhibition opens with the story of Christian Dior’s life: his childhood in Granville, the Roaring Twenties when he discovered the avant-garde art world and the pleasures of Parisian entertainment, his training as a fashion illustrator and his entry into the haute couture world. Before turning to fashion, Christian Dior ran an art gallery from 1928 to 1934 in partnership with his friends, first Jacques Bonjean then Pierre Colle. This part of his life is illustrated with a series of paintings, sculptures and documents that depict an eclectic approach to curating, the older generation of established artists rubbing shoulders with young artists who were Dior’s peers. These up-and-coming talents included Giacometti, Dalí, Calder, Leonor Fini, Max Jacob, Jean Cocteau and Christian Bérard. Christian Dior was a lover of antiques and objets d’art, an Art Nouveau collector, a decorator enthralled by the 18th century and a garden enthusiast. He drew on all these sources of inspiration to embellish his private residences and define the aesthetic for his couture house and designs. The exhibition shows us that his gowns were full of references to painting and sculpture as well as everything that makes up the art of living: wallpapers, fabrics, china and chinoiserie.

Musée des Arts décoratifs
107, rue de Rivoli
75001 Paris
France

Phone: +33 (0)1 44 55 57 50

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• Individuals
• Groups
(available in French only)

Curators
• Olivier GABET, The Arts Décoratifs Museums director
• Florence MÜLLER, Avenir Foundation Curator of Textile Art and Fashion, Denver Art Museum

Scenography
• Nathalie CRINIÈRE