I’ve been eagerly awaiting the latest fashion exhibition at the NGV International, The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture. After seeing last year’s Viktor & Rolf: Fashion Artists exhibition, which was stunning, I couldn’t wait to see what the NGV had in store to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of The House of Dior’s debut spring-summer 1947 collection.
I have only one word. WOW!
It’s always a privilege to be invited to the NGV media previews, which give me a first glimpse at exhibitions before they open to the public. They are always exciting, but this one had an extra special buzz about it and it was standing room only for the introductory speeches by Tony Ellwood, Director of the NGV and the other principle partners.
Normally it’s just tea and coffee for refreshments at these events, but such a special occasion called for an extra special bottle of bubbly. I don’t normally drink before lunch but made a special exemption in this case.
We are so lucky to have this exhibition exclusively in Melbourne. It’s been a three year collaboration between the NGV and the House of Dior, Paris, and features a sumptuous display of over 140 garments from Christian Dior Couture designed between 1947 and 2017.
Garments and accessories have come from all over the world including Dior’s own Heritage collection in Paris, the Met in New York and London’s V&A Museum. There were also many generous loans and donations from private collectors.
The exhibition narrates the rich history of the fashion house, including Christian Dior’s early influences, the design codes synonymous with Dior, and the milestones of its six successive designers following Christian Dior’s sudden death in 1957. These comprise of Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri.
The exhibition also explores Dior’s unique affinity with Australia, including the historic spring 1948 fashion parade at David Jones, Sydney, which featured 50 original creations by Christian Dior. This was the first representative Dior collection to be shown outside of Paris.
It’s room after room of garments, shoes and head wear which are just so stunning in detail, design and construction that I had visual overload. So, so good!
The exhibition’s design is really one of the NGV’s most ambitious and succeeds in transporting visitors to intimate Parisian salons, atelier spaces and even features a grand sweeping staircase inspired by the iconic staircase from the Paris couture house.
It was a special treat to see artisans from the Christian Dior Couture atelier in Paris working on couture garments. Through an interpreter I had a chance to ask them about the pieces they were working on and discussed some of the hidden craftsmanship in the garments on display. Because I was so interested in garment construction they showed me the hidden secret that creates the pronounced hip shape in the famous Bar Suit Jacket (replica).
The artisans from the Dior Atelier can be seen in the exhibition space during the first and last weeks of the exhibition.
I only managed to get through about a third of the exhibition before our media viewing time ran out. There was just so much to see, I’ll be going back to see it again.
I recommend allowing about 3 hours to take in the whole exhibition.
If you have even a passing interest in fashion, textiles or design I urge you to see this outstanding exhibition. It’s really worth the trip to Melbourne if you live out of town. If you just can’t get to the NGV before November, there are some fantastic resources on the NGV website including access to the audio guide and exhibition labels, interviews, videos and background history – Dive in here
I’m going to absorb all the informative goodness before my next visit to give me extra insight into the works when I see them again.
THE HOUSE OF DIOR: Seventy Years of Haute Couture
WHERE: NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Australia
WHEN:27 August – 7 November 2017
HOW MUCH:Member $22 | Adult $26 | Concession $23.50 | Child (5–15 years) $10 | Family (2 adults + 3 children) $65 available online or at NGV