V&A Museum to host the UK’s biggest ever Christian Dior exhibition next year

By Rose Adams | 14 Aug 2018 | Culture, Style

The show is putting the spotlight on the couturier’s relationship with Britain and its unrivalled international impact

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* Yves Saint Laurent in front of Christian Dior London, 11th November 1958 [Image credit: © Popperfoto, Getty Images]

London’s Victoria & Albert Museum has announced it is to present the largest – and most expensive – exhibition on French couture label Christian Dior ever hosted in the UK, Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams. The major retrospective – set to open its doors on 2 February 2019 – will be the museum’s biggest fashion exhibition since 2015’s record breaking Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, which attracted almost half a million visitors.

The exciting presentation will boast more than 500 exhibits, featuring an excess of 200 rare haute couture garments and accessories, showcasing the landmark work of the design house, from 1947 through to the present day. Possessions belonging to Christian Dior himself are showcased alongside sketches, photography and illustrations displaying the influence of every artistic director to have succeeded him since his death in 1957 – including Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri. There will also be a focus on the maison's traditional vision of femininity and forays into fragrance and beauty.

Stand out exhibits include the dress worn by Princess Margaret for her 21st birthday – on loan from the Museum of London – and dresses designed for his muses, models Sylvie and Lucky. What’s more, the exhibition will also reimagine the spectacular show Dior staged at Blenheim Palace in 1954.

Related: Discover the design hotlist: Daniel Kearns

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* Christian Dior with model Lucky, circa 1955 [Image courtesy of Christian Dior]

Curated by the V&A’s fashion and textiles curator Oriole Cullen – who has previously curated Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones and Ballgowns: British Glamour since 1950 – designer Nathalie Crinière, and the talented team at the V&A, the show is inspired by the major French exhibition Christian Dior: Couturier du Rêve. Held last year at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, to mark Dior’s 70th anniversary, the show attracted more than 700,000 visitors – the highest total for a single show since the museum was established 112 years ago.

New for its run at the V&A, will be a section dedicated to the designer’s fascination for British culture. Dior’s adoration for London was well-documented, holding his first ever fashion show at The Savoy Hotel in 1947, and having once said:: “There is no other country in the world, besides my own, whose way of life I like so much. I love English traditions, English politeness, English architecture. I even love English cooking.”

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* Écarlate afternoon dress, Autumn-Winter 1955 Haute Couture collection, Y line. Victoria and Albert Museum, London [Image credit: © Laziz Hamani]

“In 1947, Christian Dior changed the face of fashion with his 'New Look', which redefined the female silhouette and reinvigorated the post-war Parisian fashion industry,” curator Oriole Cullen said. "The influence of Christian Dior’s design was all-pervasive and helped to define an era. In their own individual ways, each of the House’s successive artistic directors have referenced and reinterpreted Dior’s own designs and continued the legacy of the founder, ensuring that the House of Christian Dior is at the forefront of fashion today. More than 70 years after its founding, the V&A’s exhibition will celebrate the enduring influence of the House of Dior and uncover Dior’s relationship with Britain."

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams follows a slew of hugely popular fashion exhibitions at the V&A, including Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion, which ran from May 2017 - February 2018 and the current Fashioned From Nature