One of the first names which pop into your mind when you think of French fashion is Christian Dior. And it is valid. It is not an overstatement to say that after World War II it was he who brought back the French fashion industry from its knees. As a result, an exhibition of this size is totally valid.
Taking place in the conveniently located and intimate McCord Museum, the exhibition not only allows you to learn more about the man and his ideas in regards to fashion, but it also gives you an inside peek into some of the contents of a couple of important Canadian Dior collectors. Much of the exhibition is made up of pieces from the Royal Ontario Museum’s collection rounded out with several pieces from McCord’s own Dior collection.
The Dior fashion house opened up in 1947 and since then it has been one of the leaders worldwide. Because of his designs, which he focused on really complementing the lines of the female body, his clothes quickly became one of the hot “must haves” in the high fashion world.
For the most part, the exhibition is divided thematically. Meaning you get a daywear, afternoon/cocktail and evening section. In each, you will bear witness to the lines and styles which are intrinsically Dior. To narrow things down and really allow you to learn about an era, the exhibition focuses on a decade of the House of Dior – 1947-1957.
While walking through the rooms, you learn about how Dior designed and wanted his clothes to look. Understand what he wanted his clothes to offer to women. Why he used certain fabrics and not others. Further, when it left Dior’s sketch pad, how the clothes were produced in the various ateliers who actually made them.
Though there are sensors around the clothes (which I found out the hard way) you still are able to get up rather close. This allows you to be wowed by the details found in almost every dress and the fine craftmanship throughout all. It is rather impressive. Really shows you how fashion is truly an art form.
Dior is about femininity. Of that time and the decades to follow. Beauty involved in the female form is accentuated by his clothes. Besides the clothes you also get a small sampling of his shoes, gloves, jewelry, and perfumes of the era. Plus you get sketches, photographs and magazine covers. Finally, there are black and white videos throughout the exhibit of a Dior fashion show in Paris.
It begins to sink in that though this is high fashion it is also was not produced in a vacuum. Meaning that the world had just emerged from its second World War in the span of a couple of decades and so simplicity was the name of the game. Compared to a lot of other designers, Dior’s dresses and gowns were fairly minimalist. Just made up of simple, non-busy designs.
Sadly, the influential designer died in 1957. But during the decade of the existence of the House of Dior with him as its head designer set the fashion house on firm ground to be a big player in high fashion for decades to come. He literally changed the form of the female silhouette during the 40s and 50s. Making clothes that were wearable/functional at work or at a party yet still be beautiful. You did not have to sacrifice one for the other.
Thankfully, due to the pandemic, the exhibition has been extended until September 26, 2021, so you still have time to catch the wonder of the clothes of Christian Dior. Check on the museum’s website for tickets as, due to health protocols, you have to book a time for your visit. Click here: https://www.musee-mccord.qc.ca/en/admission-desk/