V&A Museum announces largest ever Christian Dior exhibition in the UK

The V&A Museum will welcome the largest ever Christian Dior exhibition in the UK next February. Taking place from 2 February - 14 July 2019, the exhibition is the museum's biggest since Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty in 2015. Spanning 1947 to the present day, 'Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams' will trace the history and impact of one of the 20th Century’s most influential couturiers, and the six artistic directors who have succeeded him, to explore the enduring influence of the fashion house.

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Christian Dior with model Sylvie, circa 1948. Image courtesy of Christian Dior


Based on the major exhibition Christian Dior: Couturier du Rêve, organised by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the exhibition will be reimagined for the V&A. For the first time, a new area will explore the designer’s fascination with British culture. Dior admired the grandeur of the great houses and gardens of Britain, as well as British-designed ocean liners, including the Queen Mary. He also had a preference for Savile Row suits. In 1947, he hosted his first UK fashion show at London’s Savoy Hotel, and in 1952 established Christian Dior London.

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Christian Dior with model Lucky, circa 1955. Image courtesy of Christian Dior

'There is no other country in the world, besides my own, whose way of life I like so much. I love English traditions, English politeness, English architecture. I even love English cooking,' said Dior.

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Princess Margaret (left) with the Duchess of Marlborough behind, presents Christian Dior with a scroll entitling him to Honorary Life Membership of the British Red Cross after the presentation of his Winter Collection at Blenheim Palaxe on 3 November 1954. © Popperfoto/Getty Images


This exhibition will investigate Dior’s creative collaborations with influential British manufacturers, and his most notable British clients, from author Nancy Mitford to ballet dancer Margot Fonteyn. A highlight will be the Christian Dior dress worn by Princess Margaret for her 21st birthday celebrations, generously on loan from the Museum of London. It will also bring to life Dior’s spectacular fashion shows staged in the UK’s most luxurious stately homes, including Blenheim Palace in 1954.

Drawn from the extensive Dior Archives, the exhibition will also showcase highlights from the V&A’s world-class Couture collections, including the iconic Bar Suit, gifted to the museum by the House of Dior in 1960. The exhibition will present more than 500 objects, with 200-plus rare Haute Couture garments shown alongside accessories, fashion photography, film, perfume, make-up, illustrations, magazines, and Dior’s personal possessions.

Perou_short_evening_dress_Autumn-Winter_1954_Haute_Couture_collection_H_line._Victoria_and_Albert_Museum_London._Gift_of_Cecil_Beaton._Photo__Laziz_Hamani.jpg
Perou short evening dress, Autumn/Winter 1954 Haute Couture collection, H line. Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Gift of Cecil Beaton. Photo: © Laziz Hamani

The exhibition will highlight Dior’s vision of femininity, encompassing garments, accessories and fragrances. Flowers are emblematic of the Couture House and have inspired silhouettes, embroidery and prints but also the launch of Miss Dior in 1947, the first fragrance created alongside the very first show.

From horticulture to global travel and 18th Century decorative arts, the show will reveal the sources of inspiration that defined the House of Dior’s aesthetic. From the daring designs of Yves Saint Laurent to the rational style of Marc Bohan, the flamboyance of Gianfranco Ferré, the exuberance of John Galliano, the minimalism of Raf Simons, and Maria Grazia Chiuri’s feminist vision of fashion, the exhibition will show how each successive artistic director has stayed true to Dior’s vision of Haute Couture, while bringing their own creative sensibilities to the House.

Soiree_de_decembre_evening_dress_Autumn-Winter_1954_Haute_Couture_collection_H_line._Victoria_and_Albert_Museum_London._Gift_of_Dame_Margot_Fonteyn._Photo__Laziz_Hamani.jpg
Soirée de décembre evening dress, Autumn-Winter 1954 Haute Couture collection, H line. Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Gift of Dame Margot Fonteyn. Photo: © Laziz Hamani

'Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams celebrates one of the most ingenious and iconic designers in fashion history. Reimagining this hugely popular exhibition from Paris – as the largest fashion exhibition the V&A has undertaken since Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty – will shed new light on Dior’s fascination with Britain. The V&A holds one of the largest and most important fashion collections in the world, and we are delighted to be able to reveal highlights from our outstanding collection alongside those from the remarkable archive of the House of Dior, for this spectacular exhibition,' says Tim Reeve, deputy director and COO of the V&A.

'In 1947, Christian Dior changed the face of fashion with his "New Look", which redefined the female silhouette and reinvigorated the post-War Parisian fashion industry. The V&A recognised Dior’s important contribution to design history early-on in his career, acquiring his sketches and garments from the 1950s onwards. The influence of Christian Dior’s design was all-pervasive and helped to define an era. In their own individual ways, each of the House’s successive artistic directors have referenced and reinterpreted Dior’s own designs and continued the legacy of the founder, ensuring that the House of Christian Dior is at the forefront of fashion today. More than seventy years after its founding, the V&A’s exhibition will celebrate the enduring influence of the House of Dior and uncover Dior’s relationship with Britain,' adds Oriole Cullen, Fashion and Textiles curator at the V&A.

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams is at the V&A from 2 February - 14 July 2019. www.vam.ac.uk

Main image photo credit: © Laziz-Hamani

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