While the traditional gift given for a seventieth anniversary is platinum, the prestigious couture house of Dior has instead decided to celebrate this landmark birthday with an Australian exhibition. Exclusive to Melbourne, this stunning fashion display is a true collaboration between the National Gallery of Victoria and the House of Dior. More than two years in the making, the NGV has on display over 140 garments designed by Christian Dior Couture between 1947 and 2017. The collection includes toiles, accessories, and illustrations, giving visitors a rare glimpse into the inner workings of one of the world’s best-known fashion labels.
Exhibited over a number of grand, sweeping rooms, each part of the exhibition explores the story of the fashion house through a series of themes, all working in conjunction to celebrate the life of Christian Dior. And rightly so, without the French designer’s legendary 1947 New Look collection, there would be none of the exaggerated shoulders, cinched in waists and accentuated hips that laid the foundations for the house.
While a selection of Dior’s original designs takes pride of place in the first room of the display, the NGV has taken great effort to feature works by the six other designers who have helped to shape the brand’s reputation: Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri.
The exhibition narrates the rich history of the fashion house, including Christian Dior’s early influences and his love of floral inspired silhouettes. Since his mysterious death in 1957, Dior’s subsequent designers have continued to push fashion boundaries, infusing these familiar shapes with opulent fabrications and rich colour palettes.
The house of Dior has long held a unique and longstanding affinity with Australia. As if to explain why we have been chosen to host this exclusive collection, on display are seating charts from the historic Spring 1948 fashion parade held at David Jones, Sydney. The first complete Dior collection outside of Paris, models in the parade wore wore fifty original creations by Christian Dior.
The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture is on display at NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Australia from now until 7 November 2017.
Images courtesy of Kirsty Umback