The CHRISTIAN DIOR: DESIGNER OF DREAMS exhibit is no ordinary fashion dalliance of pretty dresses on mannequins. Oh no. The DIOR exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum is epic. And when we say epic, we mean it. This incredible walk through the history and heritage of the DIOR brand, from Christian to Maria Grazia, is an enormous tribute to the house’s unparalleled contribution to the art of fashion. Curated by the Avenir Foundation Curator of Textile Art, Curator of Fashion at the Denver Art Museum, and Dior expert Florence Müller, the traveling exhibit initially opened to rave reviews in Paris in 2017. Four years later, the exhibition landed on our shores.
Sprawling across the Beaux-Arts Court and adjacent galleries at the museum, the physical presence of the exhibit is breathtaking.
Everywhere you look, from ceiling to floor, the space is occupied with glittering couture, archival looks, fantastical video, and of course, an array of fashion memorabilia. DIOR’s original New Look ensconced in a glass vitrine, holds court in front of old black and white footage with Monsieur Dior in voiceover.
The iconic New Look, which debuted in 1947, amounts to two simple yet groundbreaking pieces: the hourglass-cut DIOR Bar Jacket and amid-calf, amply cut hand-pleated skirt with padded hips. This singular fashion statement represents an earth-shattering shift that occurred in the mindset of fashion lovers after the 2nd World War. It signified a welcome return to glamour, a celebration of the female form, and the promise of luxuriating in luscious fabrics and details once again. It was not only the New Look; it was the right look for the time.
Since the untimely death of Christian Dior in 1957, the house of DIOR has employed some of the most brilliant fashion creators of our time.
Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferre, John Galliano, Raf Simons, and at present, Maria Grazia Chiuri, who holds the honor as the first woman to be Artistic Director of the brand. Scattered throughout the exhibit are beautiful day looks and spectacular evening gowns from each of these brilliant creators. It’s fascinating to see the contrast from one designer to another and how their particular vision shaped the direction of the house during their tenure.
One of our favorite rooms in the exhibit is the narrow white hall filled from top to bottom with heavenly white toiles. The room feels like a dizzying hall of mirrors filled with luminous white ghosts staring you down. The entire exhibit is designed so every visitor has the opportunity to get close to the looks on display. You can revel in the details, the handwork, and even the seams if you so desire.
The COLORAMA wall guides you through a vivid parade of colorful looks, accessories, illustrations, and doll-size mannequins in every shade of the rainbow. Here, the all-black uniform takes a backseat to the pure joy of color.
Jennifer Lawrence’s Oscar gown was designed by Raf Simons for DIOR.
Take a peek inside the STARS IN DIOR room (which is literally lit with tiny projected stars) for some of the most iconic dresses worn on the red carpet by Hollywood’s biggest celebrities. Remember when Jennifer Lawrence tripped on the stairs to collect her Oscar for Best Actress in Silver Linings Playbook? That dress is here, along with many other extraordinary must-see gowns that capture the DIOR mystique.
At the center of the exhibit is the circular ENCHANTED GARDEN. A spectacular wide-open gallery with floating dresses, otherworldly video projections and truly breathtaking evening looks from the ethereal to the downright sexy.
It would be impossible not to find yourself genuinely enchanted by the
nearly eight decades of spectacular creativity and innovation of this
couture house and the everlasting legacy of Christian Dior in the
eternal history of fashion.
CHRISTIAN DIOR: DESIGNER OF DREAMS at the Brooklyn
Museum through February 20, 2022.
Juli Alvarez is a highly experienced fashion consultant specializing in digital and print media, e-commerce content, fashion copywriting, and fashion image creation for fashion, accessory, wedding, and editorial brands. Juli has worked closely with clients to elevate and expand their brand imagery, content, and product. “I enjoy working on projects that range in scope from creative direction to styling to show casting to writing.”
Illustration by ERI WAKIYAMA