Updated: Apr 16, 2019
As part of our Culture Vulture series we’ll be exploring some of the most glorious, exuberant and exciting events happening right now in the UK. As dedicated Culture Vultures and lovers of the Arts, we're excited and committed to sharing with you all the latest news and beautiful images of our journeys...
Saturday was spent visiting The Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition.
The V&A (hats off to Curator Oriole Cullen) have outdone themselves with their impressive arrangement of the gowns, which is without a doubt, quite breathtaking. I felt overwhelmed, taking in all the intricate detail and artistry that had not only gone into the collections but also into creating their magnificent settings. Surrounded by an abundance of silk and style, one actually could hear the gasps as the visitors caught a glimpse of each new display.
There are eleven sections to view, each one meticulously arranged to showcase the vision, beauty and glamour that has become synonymous with the name Dior. Christian Dior himself died in 1957 but his legacy continued with his torch being carried forward by Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Bill Gaytten, Raf Simmons, Serge Ruffieux/Lucie Meier and Maria Grazia Chiuri. Hence we can see how each of the eleven rooms represents a different influence, celebrating craftsmanship through elements of the theatrical, flamboyance, seduction, feminism and the deceptively simple with each artistic director striving to remain true to Dior's creative vision. With an extravaganza of accessories, including the work of notables such as British milliner Stephen Jones, designers of costume jewellery Mitchel Maer, and shoes by Roger Vivier needless to say we are, for want of a better term, in ' Glitter Heaven.'
The exhibition includes so many iconic pieces that only the largest book would be adequate to describe them. It seemed presumptuous, controversial and overly ambitious to try and single out any one piece in particular that epitomises Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams. So instead, I've chosen to highlight the two pieces I was keenest to see. The first is featured early on in the exhibition and it is the legendary Bar Suit. From the Spring/Summer Corolle Haute Couture Line (1947), the suit was a contribution to Dior's 'New Look' collection. It was a look that would literally revolutionise the way women sought to be dressed. The soft lines and the tiny, clinched-in-waist, accentuated the contours and curves of the female form and were in dramatic contrast to the more masculine, tailored, boxed shape previously seen in post-war attire. The female silhouette was championed once more and the drabness of the post-war era was cast aside for a preference for femininity and elegance.
Moving to my second choice, any avid historian or perhaps viewer of the Netflix production The Crown will be familiar with the gown below belonging to Princess Margaret (famously captured by renowned photographer Cecil Beaton to mark her 21st Birthday in 1951). Princess Margaret was arguably the most avant-garde member of the royal household of her generation, with classic film stars looks and her entourage she embodied Hollywood glamour, her love of all things fashionable in addition to her admiration of Christian Dior were frequently reflected in her choice of wardrobe in the years that followed.
Needless to say, as I strolled through each room, it became impossible to select a favourite, as each one added something wonderful to the collection. Who could forget Galliano's theatrical Egypt Series, or the stunning fairytale finery of the chandelier Ballroom showcasing dresses once worn by Charlize Theron and other members of Hollywood's finest? Then of course, there's the refinement of the beautiful mirrored room, home to The Ateliers. The unforgettable, simple elegance of the floral dresses embellished with embroidery and silk flower detail in The Garden, and the razzle-dazzle which is the extravaganza of Diorama.
To give you but a taste of the delights that await you should you decide to visit, I have selected a few images from my keepsakes of the exhibition although none of the pictures here can ever truly give the creations the justice they deserve.
Having been a keen attendee of many events at the V&A, I've never come away from any feeling disappointed. Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams was for me the ultimate exhibition experience, it definitely does have the 'wow' factor! If you're planning to visit anytime soon, be aware that tickets available to buy at the museum on the day are limited and despite adding more tickets on-line and extending the exhibition's run, the event continues to sell out. Having checked the website constantly and to avoid disappointment I purchased membership on-line which allowed myself and a guest unlimited free entry to all exhibitions, in addition to many other lovely benefits (details : http://www.vam.ac.uk).
Even if you take the plunge and join, do expect to queue, although happily, as I discovered, this does allow you to fashionista-watch as some of the attendee's outfits on Saturday were super-amazing (this definitely took the pain out of waiting, which is one of my pet hates!) Oh, and as an additional plus of joining up, you could always treat yourself to something delicious to eat or even a fancy Friday night Cocktail (highly recommended) in the excellent Members' Room.