The rest of the show is thematic, intermingling Christian Dior’s creations with the classical busts, Renaissance paintings and surrealist sculptures that inspired them, and with designs by the creative directors who followed after his death in 1957: Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré , John Galliano, Raf Simons and the current, first female, holder of the post, Maria Grazia Chiuri.
The show’s use of color is staggering: one long “Colourama” display features shoes, bags and perfume pixels by chrom conditioning – an orange-hued backless dress by Raf Simons beside a clementine-coloured mohair dress-coat by John Galliano, running on and on In tiny tens increments from mustard to zingy yellow to cream to dove gray to teal to ballet slipper pink to cream to baby blue to lilac to rich purple and burgundy. Later, in a muted, wood-panelled white and gray neoclassical drawing room, there are Frothy corseted dresses in Versailles hues: pale pinks, soft blues.
One of the Dior robes in the exhibition. Photograph: Musée des Arts Décoratifs
A room examines the inspiration Dior drew from gardens – a haute couture minidress covered in little green sprigs into an unlikely AstroTurf-meets-cocktail hour moment – while a Monet iris painting hangs from the wall and, overhead, the ceiling is blanketed in thousands of Tendrils and vines made from delicate white paper
The second half of the show brings out the big guns, starting with the white “bar” jacket, with its padded hips, styled with a full black skirt and a basket-style hat, an outfit immortalised in so many fashion history books. That there are rows of triple-height glass display cases filled with Dior’s superlative, precise gray suiting, and a long, narrow brightly lit room packed with the original toiles of hundreds of sculptural creations, which appear to float like ghosts into infinity due to the Mirrored ceiling – see how to make the most of the fair gallery – the “dior ballroom” – where a shimmering projection of stars cascades over gowns such as Elizabeth Taylor’s 1961 Academy Awards dress and gold Galliano haute couture, visitors with only a passing Running out of superlatives
DIOR ROBE JUNON CREDITS PHOTO NICHOLAS ALAN COPE
An evening gown from the late 1940s. Photograph: Musee des Arts Decoratifs
There are little threads here that may surprise even the most dedicated Dior heads. One of the influential crew Dior ran with in the 1920s, including Salvador Dali, Man Ray, Calder and Giacometti; Ray’s Perpetual Motive, in which an eye Is attached to the pendulum of a metronome, and Dali’s Retrospective Bust of a Woman, which features an inkwell and a baguette balancing on a woman’s head, are on display. In another gallery we read letters between Dior and his father touching on the little- Known story of his sister, Catherine, who was part of the French resistance during the second world war, and was rescued from a concentration camp.
The main takeaway, though, is pure sensory overload, an excess of pattern and color that will have visitors ignoring the polite little captions explain which of the dresses are by Dior himself and which are by Raf Simons or John Galliano. Galliano’s fantastical creations often steal The show: a coat-gown with Hokusai’s Great Wave and a full-length python dress worn with an ancient Egyptian death mask are among the stand-out pieces. Reminding viewers of Galliano’s technical brilliance – and squishing his work in with that of the Revered Master – is a sleight of hand that helps the exhibition to gloss over one of the house’s controversies; Galliano’s departure in disgrace in 2011.
Galliano is not the only creative director to have stress with the stresses of leading such a revered fashion house. Raf Simons spoke of long hours and stress when when he left in 2015; Maria Grazia Chiuri has been up upbeat and philosophical when talking about her role But but has met with mixed reviews from critics expecting not just attractive gowns but era-definition surprises.
Ponchos, denim and lots of fringing: Dior does prairie chic for top clients
Grazia Chiuri’s haute couture show took place on Monday in the sealing power outside in the garden of Paris’s Hôtel des Invalides. Having made headlines with her debut collection – which included feminist slogan T-shirts – this time her empowering manifesto was less explicit and more thematic Nodding to female explorers. One shearling jumpsuit look like a haute take on Amelia Earhart’s aesthetic, while a series of gray suits echoed Christian Dior’s famous tailoring – currently suspended in a museum just a few kilorgres across the Seine – almost exactly