Whether we like it or not, life often gives you exactly what you need, at just the right time. After a shaky start to the year I was in desperate need of a pick me up. Having made the professional move to beauty from fashion a few years ago, it’s been incredible to rediscover my passion for my first love all over again. As I recovered from my January blues, I’d totally forgotten about the V&A’s new Dior exhibition: which promised to be as mind-blowing as McQueen’s Savage Beauty; big armadillo shoes to fill; but this was Dior after all.
The master of the first truly feminine suit; and couturier to everyone from Princess Margaret to Audrey Hepburn, Christian Dior and his eponymous label can rightfully be credited as the brand that pushed and propelled the likes of John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri to iconic heights. Dior’s other famous alumni include the equally great: Gianfranco Ferre, Marc Nolan and my main man: Yves Saint Laurent.
So to say I was excited to see this show was an understatement; but if the McQueen press preview was anything to go by, I was in for a pushy fashion crowd. However my fears were unfounded, as nothing could dampen the magnificence of this Dior show.
After descending the staircase through the new and truly stunning, exhibition road entrance, I was presented with a black and ivory Haute Couture Bar suit from 1947. The room was encased in silk 50s-Silhouette gowns and the blurb heralded the New Look.
In the middle stood Princess Margaret’s 21st birthday dress, with a picture of her alongside it. What was immediately evident and a common recurrence throughout: was how up close and personal you could get to these beautiful pieces. Yes they were protected or set back, but the detail was stark. You could see every button, every thread. It was truly exquisite – and seeing them up-close further cemented the impeccable craftsmanship and whimsy of a Dior gown.
As I wandered through the strip lights, with walls dressed in part with white framed sketches; bar suits in all black or prim greys, stood alongside scarlet opera coats and oblique-cut silk gowns: all topped off with an assortment of hats and gloves; it was clear an education in elegance was underway.
Bows and sable furs delicately draped and pinned just so, adorned every item in a divine ode to female form and our penchant for the practical and pretty.
Each room represented a different aspect of the brand’s heritage and in most you could see Christian Dior’s designs, alongside those of the designers that came after him, designing in his name. What was striking was how naturally they stood alongside one another- and how each designer felt a duty to uphold and aspire to the codes of the house of Dior.
Entering the garden room was like stepping into a modern regal fantasy. Stunning gowns impeccably tailored at the bust and waist, were pieces anyone would dream of wearing, whether a girly girl or not. The pure white silk brocade sleeveless gown, was a standout favourite and one that I would wear everywhere, if given the chance. This was pure Dior fantasy and was just the beginning.
As I continued to wander through, stunning dresses for every occasion, continued to present themselves.
XL off-the-shoulder bowed chiffon gowns, bedecked with dainty florals, dark corseted numbers and light as a feather strapless gowns constructed entirely of minuscule flowers, brought the second garden room to life and exemplified how Dior’s successors, effortlessly continued his legacy and dream-invoking aesthetic.
After an interlude playing tribute to the groundbreaking beauty department of the house, the homages continued. In each section you could see how Dior was interpreted over the decades, by Yves Saint Laurent, John Galliano and Gianfranco Ferre, to name a few.
As the end approached I never wanted to leave and you could literally spend all day in this exhibition.
In the penultimate room was one of the most striking and most reminiscent of McQueen’s Savage Beauty. The Ateliers’ room, was a breathtaking floor to ceiling tribute to the many hands behind the scenes, that go into bringing the Dior fantasy to life and maintaining the codes and quality through every new head of the house.
Walls were dressed in rows of underlining blazers, corsets and gowns, in a true tribute to the craftsmanship that warrants the price tags and loyal following that the house of Dior does.
After a final tribute to the Beauty and magazine covers of the house, I stepped into my fantasy.
This is truly the most stunning room you will ever encounter; and after being wowed by room upon room, this is a bold but nevertheless true statement.
I was giddy, I gasped, and shamelessly chatting to myself with glee. If you love fashion, beautiful things, or just pretty lighting; you too will find yourself half delirious in this room. It is everything.
As the lights rise and fall, a different dress catches your attention in this amphitheatre of beauty.
There is little I could say to truly encapsulate the feeling, or the sheer brilliance of this final room, so I will leave you with a few photos and urge that you get yourself to the V&A immediately!
I’ll also be adding videos to my highlights on Instagram @blushlondon.
Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, Victoria & Albert Museum at the V&A until September 2019: vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/dior-designer-of-dreams