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A Christian Dior 70-Year Retrospective

It’s back-to-back Dior in Paris this month, with Designer of Dreams at Les Arts Décoratifs and the 2017-2018 autumn/winter couture show

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Text by Rab Messina

The Dior archives, carrying 70 years of history, gave creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri the inspiration for the fashion house’s haute couture autumn/winter 2017-2018 collection. There, a 1953 Albert Decaris etching with a map of the five continents was a mirror image to the Christian Dior’s assertion that “a complete collection should address all types of women in all countries.”

Her homage to the founder’s vision couldn’t have come at a better time: this month, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris has opened Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, celebrating seven decades of the fashion house’s history. The retrospective exhibition includes works by Dior himself, as well as the creative names that succeeded him —that is Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Chiuri herself.

The exhibition includes more than 300 standout dresses and a wide range of accessories from each era, and also presents hundreds of illustrations, sketches, letters and marketing files. For fans of the Rouge lipstick series, Designer of Dreams features what seems like hundreds of shades of red from the lips to the nails, from the wardrobe to shoes by Roger Vivier.

Curators Florence Müller and Olivier Gabet have also shared a selection of paintings, furniture and designer objets to convey the message that, as Dior himself was a lover of museums, he forged links between couture and all forms of art. His successors have surely followed his lead —especially Simons, who presented collections inspired by the works of Hieronymus Bosch and Sterling Ruby.

For her second couture collection for the house, Chiuri filled the Invalides Museum with pieces that referenced Dior’s —the man— passion for touring the five continents. Among the 50’s-style skirts, the culottes and the chemisier dresses, once silhouette stood out: a reworked Bar jacket, the iconic piece that spearheaded the designer’s New Look back in 1947, for his first collection in Paris. Indeed: a retrospective.

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams is open at Les Arts Décoratifs until January 7, 2018.

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