Celebrating the seventieth anniversary of one of the world’s most prestigious couture houses, the National Gallery of Victoria has just opened their latest exhibition, The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture. Exclusive to Melbourne, House of Dior includes extravagant display of more than 140 garments designed by Christian Dior Couture between 1947 and 2017.
The exhibition explores the history behind the fashion house through a series of themes, showcasing works of by seven different designers who played a vital role in shaping Dior’s much loved profile. Designers on display include Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri.
Delving into some of Dior’s most landmark designs, it’s hard to choose just one highlight because every inch of the display is mesmerising. From the iconic ‘New Look’ silhouette that revolutionised women’s fashion in the 1950’s, to the first look at the inaugural couture collection of the House’s current and first female head designer Maria Grazia Chiuri– the collection wields the forever changing landscape of fashion.
With a strong focus on craftsmanship, at the core of the exhibit is an atelier displaying Haute Courte creations currently in the process of conception. Giving a behind-the-scenes glimpse into what a real Dior atelier looks like, the photography and film footage in this part of the exhibit reveals some of the specialist techniques, tools and production methods used to make specific couture garments.
At the time that I visited the exhibition two seamstresses from the House of Dior were in the atelier doing a demonstration. They said that the beautiful red Bar Coat on display took 180 hours to make! They also said that each seamstress specialises in only one particular area. So if you make pants one week, you won’t be spending the next making jackets. You will be making pants and nothing but pants. With the intense work, intricacy and detail that go into making just one garment, it’s easy to see what the fuss is all about.
The exhibit also shines a light on the brands unique affinity with Australia, with the 50 original creations by Dior from the ground breaking Spring 1948 Sydney fashion parade at David Jones on display. At the time it was the first complete Dior collection to be shown outside of Paris.
And just when you think you’ve seen all the glitz and glamour you could handle, the exhibition’s closing room drags you right back in with dramatic ball gowns worn by famous celebrities like Miranda Kerr (whose wedding dress is the essence of elegance). You’ll walk away feeling one of two things: a) I am going to quit my job and become a designer, or b) I need to marry someone that is rich enough to buy me pretty dresses that are probably the same price as a house.
The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture runs to 7th November 2017 and includes a dynamic program of talks, tours and events curated by the NGV. Check out the official website for more details.