When you think of luxury what are the brands that spring to mind? Chanel? Tiffany? Gucci? If you are anything like me the first brand that comes to mind is Dior. Dior has managed to stay relevant and covetable since 1947 when a young designer named Christian Dior wowed the world with his New Look. This fashion house has moved with the times whilst also remaining timeless and if the crowds who attended the recent Dior Exhibition at the NGV in Melbourne are anything to go by I am not alone in my love for this beautiful brand.
I was lucky enough to visit the exhibition – The House of Dior : Seventy Years of Haute Couture. It was absolutely breathtaking with over 140 pieces spanning collections from 1947 – 2017. This display was every fashionista’s dream and we were so lucky to have it here right in Australia. Everyone who saw it had nothing but praise and we all said that the designs from 1947 were still looks we’d wear today. From elegant black dresses to signature Dior red showstoppers through to cinched in suits in polka dot or tweed it was very difficult to choose a favourite.
About Christian Dior
The young Christian Dior loved art and earned a living first as an art gallery owner and when that closed he supported himself by selling fashion sketches to newspapers. He landed a fashion design job but fate intervened and he was conscripted into the French army.
In 1940 he finally returned to Paris and spent five years working for courtier Lucien Long before founding his own house in December of 1946. His fashion house at 30 Avenue Montaigne, Paris is still the headquarters of Dior to this day!
Early Days of Dior
Dior knew how to dress a woman’s body and his first couture collection shown in 1947 changed the way women dressed forever. Wartime clothing had been austere and utilitarian whereas the New Look draped over a women’s curves- emphasising the waist and using the finest of fabrics and lots of it. The collection was a huge hit the world over and thus an iconic fashion brand was born.
Dior ‘s collection was embraced by Australians who were treated to a parade of the Spring 1948 collection before the fashion capitals of New York and even London.
Sadly Christian Dior died suddenly in 1957 but his plans for a gala showing in Australia did not and David Jones brought seven Dior house mannequins and 83 garments to Australia. The Australia -Dior love affair continues to this day and the House of Dior has honoured we Aussies by calling a number of looks- Australie, Melbourne and Sydney. Must be Brisbane’s turn next!
Famous Dior Designs
Dior has been worn by many celebrities and iconic actresses- Audrey Hepburn, Lauren Bacall, Jean Harlow and Elizabeth Taylor all showcased his earlier designs. Princess Margaret and Princess Grace were also big fans of Dior.
Dior designed my very favourite handbag ‘ The Lady Dior’ which was eventually named for Princess Diana after France’s First Lady- Bernadette Chirac gifted the bag to Diana in September 1995. Diana swiftly adopted this handbag as her signature and ordered it in every available version. By 1996 Princess Diana had been photographed so much with her favourite style of Dior handbag it was christened the ‘Lady Dior’ paying homage to the Princess. It was renamed ‘ Lady Dior ‘ with her blessing and is still one of the most coveted handbags on the planet.
Australian stars have always loved Dior and in the exhibition we saw the chartreuse dress with floral embroidery worn by our own Nicole Kidman to the Oscars and the very elegant custom made Dior wedding dress worn by Aussie supermodel Miranda Kerr.
The black and white Dior couture dress from the autumn/ winter 2013 collection worn by Jennifer Lawrence to the Golden Globe Awards where she won Best Supporting Actress for American Hustle was on display. I was also quite shocked to see how see -through the gown was that Jennifer Lawrence wore to the Hunger Games- Catching Fire premiere in 2013. A very brave design from Raf Simons.
Recently stars like Rihanna, Bella Hadid, Giselle Bundchen and Winnie Harlow have made it cool to wear Dior again and with edgy Italian designer Maria Grazia Chuiri as the first female artistic director, Dior appears to be going from strength to strength. Maria is creating her own iconic must have looks including – The Metal Logo Bag, The Tape Measure Heels and The Logo Saddle Bag.
The Dior exhibition told a story of a fashion house that had weathered the seasons of change well through a range of designers and artistic directors and through a knowledge that luxury, quality and timeless appeal will never go out of style. Their head to toe looks embracing shoes, handbags and headwear through the decades were a wonder to see. For me standouts in the display were the range of timeless black dresses, the beautifully embroidered, sparkling dazzling ball gowns and the signature red dresses. Although I would not say no to the polka dots or the well cut coats. Now if we could have a display of Dior handbags through the ages I would be in heaven. So tell me do you have a favourite Dior design or look from across the decades? Who epitomises Dior style to you?