During our last trip to Paris we chanced upon a spectacular exhibition in Musée des Arts décoratifs celebrating the life of Christian Dior and the history of his company. For people really interested in fashion this exhibition, called “Christian Dior, Couturier du rêve,” must be almost unbearably exciting and for us, who only know fashion randomly, it was still a great experience, particularly because of the incredible design of the exhibition and the scale of the event.
The entrance is arranged as an entrance to Dior’s boutique, using the impressive architecture of the museum combined with lights and movie screens. Each room is governed by a different idea – conceptual and visual – but with everything kept orderly through a consistent use of black, white and splashes of red.
Smart use of movies makes you feel like you’re looking into the atelier.
Early on a room called Colorama shows hundreds of things the house of Dior designs (shoes, accessories, cosmetics, models of dresses and what not, you get lost in the details) arranged by color and it makes a truly spectacular impression. Unfortunately, we don’t have any photos because that room was too crowded to take them.
Some time after that you get to our favorite room in the entire exhibition, illustrating floral inspiration. It is covered in leaves and flowers cut out of white paper, with only shadows of colors created with lights. We do have photos of that room but they don’t entirely capture its charm.
So many paper flowers. I wish you could take some with you.
Oh yes, there are dresses.
The dresses are pretty, too.
But just look at those flowers!
Some sort of Didoni typeface was really the only way to go, typographically.
One of the rooms is almost entirely white, covered floor to ceiling with preliminary models of dresses, sort of initial 3D sketches. This serves to underline the technical aspects of sewing, which we imagine most people don’t think about often.
And after that comes this room, with a long row of iconic Dior designs in black and red. The room is black with lights creating a mechanical rhythm and an impression of a long period of time stretching into the future. See what we mean about careful design?
The room with iconic designs in black and gray, shown in glass cases.
And the last room pays tribute to ball gowns, showing them in a sort of ball room built with animated lights where pretty much everyone wants to be a classic Disney princess and wear a dress like that. We did anyway.
And yes, the exhibition is decorated with some beautiful paintings loaned from other Parisian museums which are almost worth the visit by themselves that you’ll barely pay any attention to with all the other things on show. There are incredible fashion photographs, e.g. by Richard Avedon, fashion sketches by consequent heads of the house of Dior and many, many other things a visual person or anyone interested in fashion at all will enjoy. (You may still visit the exhibition until January.)
(You can also read my slightly more personal account of the exhibition here.)