The world of Dior

christian Dior red coat
My favourite piece at the Christian Dior exhibition at the V&A
Christian Dior "New look"

A new exhibition at the V&A in London explores the impact of one of fashion’s most influential couturiers. At the end of the second world war when austerity and hardship had been endured by many women Christian Dior arrived on the scene with his Corolle collection in February 1947. It was swiftly christened as the “New look” by American editrix Carmel Snow.

The “new look” epitomised an age of elegance and feminity. The designers name became synonymous with nipped in waists, voluptuous skirts, powdery scents and the dove grey walls of his showroom.

Christian Dior "New Look"

In my opinion, Dior really understood the female form and designed clothes that showed off this form to its best advantage. “Christian Dior, the designer of dreams” is the largest ever exhibition on the artistry of haute couture to be held in the UK. I went to see the Dior exhibition when it was held in Paris at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in 2017. The V&A has curated this exhibition in a slightly different way with the addition of a section that looks at Dior in Britain. At the time rationing was still in place and although the war had ended life was still quite dreary.

Dior in Britain

Princess Margaret's ballgown by Christian Dior

Dior’s designs were enthusiastically embraced by the British aristocracy and the royal family. The dress above was worn by Princess Margaret on her 21st birthday. Cecil Beaton photographed her in the dress for her birthday portrait. I am currently watching The Crown on Netflix and they reproduce this beautifully embroidered dress for the scene when the actress Vanessa Kirby descends the stairs at Buckingham Palace.

The Ateliers

The Ateliers at Christian Dior

The ateliers are the heart of Dior. It is in these workrooms that seamstresses or “Petites Mains” turn ideas into exquisite haute couture garments.

The Christian Dior exhibition London
The world of dreams

“The ballgown is your dream, and it must make you dream” Christian Dior 1954. His evening dresses and ballgowns draw on his love of historic costume. Throughout his life he loved designing clothes that would be worn at balls and fancy dress parties. Nowadays you can still see these gorgeous decorative gowns that are produced by the House of Dior worn by celebrated actresses at the Oscars and Cannes film festival.

The Christian Dior exhibition at the V&A

Christian Dior spent his childhood in Normandy. His mother was an enthusiastic gardener and you will see this floral influence appear in many of the Dior designs.

John Galliano designs for Christian Dior

The John Galliano period. A bit too theatrical for my taste. I prefer the simpler styles.

Raf Simons for Christian Dior

In the image above are some designs by Raf Simons (Dior 2012-2015).

The exhibition not only focusis on the life of Christian Dior, who sadly died in 1957 at the age of 52. but those who followed in his footsteps, from St. Laurent to Maria Grazia Chiuri.

Christian Dior nail polish and costume jewellery

If a Dior gown is beyond your budget you could always indulge in a nail polish or some costume jewellery.

Christian Dior ballgown

I hope you have enjoyed this short tour of the Dior exhibition.

18 Comments

  1. jozefine
    5th March 2019 / 15:08

    very enjoyable!!! thanks.

  2. marifach
    5th March 2019 / 15:34

    Wonderful garments! I wore New Look dresses, (not Dior), and remember how beautiful they were. Many of the dresses worn on the red carpet these days are positively ugly; especially the ones on half-naked wearers. (Sorry!)

    The late Forties: Those were the days. Wish I still had those garments. Still have some from the Fifties!

    • 5th March 2019 / 16:47

      I agree I don’t like the half-naked styles but there are still some elegant ones normally worn by the older actresses.

  3. 5th March 2019 / 15:58

    Some of these creations we still see, today. Imagine what a breath of fresh air they must have been for post WWII, and Princes Margaret’s dress… Who has a waistline that tiny? Thank you for sharing. I’m coming to England in September for a garden tour and will be in London, but it sounds like this will have closed by then. I’m sure something else will be on the scene by then. Thanks for this look back, Brenda

    • 5th March 2019 / 16:44

      Thanks for you comment Brenda. The fifties styles really suit my figure type so I am biased. I used to have a small waist and wore similar styles. sadly no longer

    • sewsew2015
      5th March 2019 / 18:25

      My mother had a tiny waist possibly because she was corseted from her early teens! I remember her New Look style dress in some chiffon-type material with large grey spots on a white background overlaying a stiffer underskirt. It a wide neckline with a white collar and a red patent leather belt to show of her 22 inch waist.The dress must have made a big impression on me because i was only 4 or 5 years old at the time!

      • 5th March 2019 / 18:57

        Hi Chris
        I too have similar memories of my mother wearing a New Look style dress. She looked gorgeous in it. I must have been a similar age to you about 5. I once had a 22-inch waist long gone!

  4. Sandra
    5th March 2019 / 16:02

    I was fortunate enough to have seen the Dior exhibit at the Decorative Arts Museum in Paris. The exhibit was outstanding, but the crowds were insane! Looks like you had more wiggle room at the V&A.

    • 5th March 2019 / 16:49

      Hi Sandra

      I agree having seem both exhibitions I found the London one more relaxed and spacious.

  5. Cheryl Owens
    5th March 2019 / 16:13

    My husband and I are visiting London the end of this month ( first trip to London! Can not wait!) the V&A is on my list already..will make sure to check out this exhibit. By the way….how is your weather? Do I need heavy winter clothes? Or transitional and layers? Already have several
    Pairs of good, comfortable walking shoes. A friend who travels to London frequently tells me you ladies dress “wonderfully quirky”. Can not wait ❤️

    • 5th March 2019 / 16:39

      Hi Cheryl
      Thanks for your comment. The weather is impossible to predict we have had a week of lovely weather with lots of sunshine now it is back to normal with grey skies and quite cold. Layers are definitely the way to go and a light raincoat. The Uniqlo vests, jackets and coats are good because they are lightweight and pack well.

  6. Brenda Chell
    5th March 2019 / 19:32

    Thank you Josephine for this lovely tour.

  7. Lois
    6th March 2019 / 01:18

    I am showing this to my 33 year old daughter who loves this style. She shops estates sales near her and has found some great vintage pieces.

  8. June Lorraine Roberts
    6th March 2019 / 02:04

    Lovely photos of his work – thank you 🙂

  9. Kathy Ludgate
    6th March 2019 / 06:45

    What a wonderful exhibit. Such classic looks never go out of style. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Wendy in York
    6th March 2019 / 08:59

    These are the dresses I spent hours drawing as a child . Then Mary Quant came along – not so glamorous but we could all wear them .

  11. Anon
    6th March 2019 / 22:17

    They really are from another time that seems like a dream. Does anyone else remember ordinary women getting dressed up to go to the grocery store?

    With greater freedoms and rights for women came more practical, easy-care clothing, and pants! Ready-to-wear replaced even home-sewn clothing. I wouldn’t want to step back in time. We can’t anyways, so now we visit museums to see these beautiful relics from the not-so-distant past.

I love to hear from you please leave a comment

STAY IN TOUCH

Sign up for new posts from Chic At Any Age

SUBSCRIBE

And don’t worry, you can unsubscribe at anytime.