MANY DRESSES SHOW IN BROOKLYN
In 2017 in honor of its seventieth birthday, The House of Dior had an exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.
Everybody who saw it raved about it. Instagram was bursting with photos taken by the lucky attendees. It was the show to see.
Unfortunately I did not go to Paris during the time it was up. And the tickets sold out quickly.
The exhibition then went on an around the world tour. It was at the Victoria and Albert in London for the year in 2019. And in 2020, it arrived in Shanghai. I don’t know how or if it crossed with COVID at that point. But it was in China for quite awhile.
My mother, who would have turned ninety-three this weekend, was longing to see it too. She was so bereft she was not in shape to get to Paris. We talked about trying to get her from Montecito to Paris, but it seemed to hard to pull off
There were many a dinner in 2017 when she and I would talk about how much we wanted to see that Dior show. But for both us it was not going to happen.
Luckily September 10th of this year the show opened at The Brooklyn Museum.
When I found out I immediately bought tickets.
Last week my girlfriend Linda Yellin and I trekked out to Brooklyn to see the show.
It is without question one of the best museum fashion retrospectives I have seen; and I have seen my fair share and then some.
One might think I was so starved for visual beauty on that scale I might have loved any show with couture dresses displayed with twinkling lights and handbags to boot.
But even if I had been out and about seeing my usual share of wonders this would have topped the list.
Dior is unique in that for most of those seventy years he was not at the helm of the Dior Fashion House. He died at the age of fifty-two only ten years after he showed his first haute couture collection.
If you read the little blurb I took from the program you see who designed for him and when.
There were people who kept to his image and vision, St. Laurent, Marc Bohan were two. And then others like Galliano who went off and did their own thing.
I was overwhelmed by two things at this remarkable show, one was the pure magnificence of the work and the other was I had this sudden longing for mom. I so wished she could have seen it. She would have stayed all day. Looking at every seam, every button, every arm hole. I could hear her voice, “Look at that black lace inset. Do you know how long that takes to make?” “I had my dressmaker copy this dress for me in fabric I bought in Lake Como. She would have gazed up at those walls of toiles studying each and every one. Pointing out tiny details most people would never notice.
I really missed her and so wished she had been there with us.
So, mom the day before your birthday – this blog is for you. The world has been a bit of a wreck since you were last here, but the Dior show crushed it.
FROM THE NOTES AT THE SHOW
CHRISTIAN DIOR: DESIGNER OF DREAMS
On February 12, 1947, Christian Dior showed his first haute couture collection to great acclaim. Quickly dubbed the “New Look” by Carmel Snow, editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar in America, this revolutionary style, with its nipped in waist and full skirts, met with unrivaled success. The following year, Dior opened a branch in New York and, in a move akin to today’s globalized fashion, initiated a plan to introduce the fashions of Paris to the world and make the New Look accessible to American women.
Christian Dior was always a discerning lover of the arts. Early on, he dreamed of becoming an artist. From a well-to-do family, Dior opened his first art gallery in Paris in 1928 and his second gallery in 1932. Following the global financial crisis that began in 1929, and with the loss of the family fortune, he was forced to find a new path. While recovering from tuberculosis in the mid-1930s, and encouraged by artist friends, Dior turned to fashion illustration; by 1938 he began working for Robert Piguet and then for Lucien Lelong, two prominent French couturiers. In 1946, with the support of industrialist Marcel Boussac, “the king of cotton,” the House of Dior was founded. After ten years at the helm, Dior died suddenly at age fifty-two, at the height of his fame, on October 24, 1957.
The exhibition opens with Dior’s New Look and its interpretations unveiled in New York, followed by the haute couture designs of his six successors—Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons, and Maria Grazia Chiuri—shown alongside materials including accessories, archival materials, fabrics, perfumes, photographs, sketches, and works from our collections. As Dior himself said, “Fashion above all is a question of line. From the shoes to the hat, the silhouette must be viewed as a whole.”