The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture

NGV The House of Dior Seventy Years of Haute Couture - photo by Wayne TaylorIn celebration of the seventieth anniversary of the House of Dior, one of the most prestigious couture houses in the world, the National Gallery of Victoria will present the never-before-seen exhibition The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture at NGV International from 27 August to 7 November 2017.

Exclusive to Melbourne, the exhibition is a collaboration between the NGV and the House of Dior and will feature a sumptuous display of over 140 garments from Christian Dior Couture designed 1947 to 2017.

Highlights include examples from Christian Dior’s iconic Spring 1947 ‘New Look’ collection, magnificent displays of Dior’s signature ballgowns and evening dresses, as well as current contemporary designs from the House’s first female head designer, Maria Grazia Chiuri.

Drawing primarily on material from the House of Dior archive in Paris and the NGV Collection, the exhibition will also feature accessories, sketches, photographs, haute couture toiles, multimedia and archival material.

The exhibition will narrate the rich history of the fashion house, including Christian Dior’s early influences, the design codes synonymous with Dior, as well as the milestones of its six successive designers following Christian Dior’s sudden death in 1957, including the esteemed designers Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria-Grazia Chiuri.

The exhibition will also explore Dior’s unique affinity with Australia, including the historic Spring 1948 fashion parade at David Jones, Sydney – where ‘house’ models wore fifty original creations by Christian Dior. This is considered the first complete Dior collection to be shown outside of Paris.

“The exhibition will invite Australian and international audiences to discover some of the most significant couture designs of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries,” said Tony Ellwood, Director NGV. “The exhibition will be a celebration of Dior’s most landmark moments and designs, including their iconic ‘New Look’ silhouette, which revolutionised women’s fashion in the 1950s, through to the present-day contemporary aesthetic.”

“We are also delighted that 68 years after the historic Dior fashion parade at its Sydney store, David Jones is once again helping Australia celebrate the House of Dior, as the exhibition’s Principal Partner. It is a great pleasure and honour for the House of Dior to be celebrating its anniversary in 2017 in Melbourne.”

Christian Dior began his fashion career late in life. Following political science studies and a career running two successive art galleries between 1928 and 1934, where he displayed the works of major artists of the era, Dior commenced working as a fashion illustrator, producing sketches for local couturiers, milliners and newspapers, such as Le Figaro. In 1938 Dior was hired as design assistant for Robert Piguet and, after his war service, in 1941 went to work for the fashion house Lucien Lelong as a junior designer, where he remained for the next five years.

Dior opened his couture house, Christian Dior, on 16 December 1946 with a staff of sixty at 30 Avenue Montaigne, Paris. Launching his first spring–summer collection the following year, on the 12 February 1947, Dior introduced a new post-war silhouette comprised of rounded shoulders, boned bodices, padded hips and full skirts made with an abundance of fabric that reaffirmed ideals of femininity and luxury in fashion. Over the next decade Dior continued to recalibrate French couture with his twice-yearly collections of new lines and his designs were frequently worn by film stars, aristocrats and Royalty.

In 1948 Dior opened the first American Company Christian Dior – New York, Inc, followed by C.D. Models in London in 1952 and Christian Dior Venezuela, Inc in 1953, and in the early 1950s initiated manufacturing under license contracts with department stores in Canada, Australia, Mexico, Cuba and Chile.

The house also expanded to include accessory lines such as perfume, millinery, stockings, gloves, shoes and jewellery. Up until his death of a heart attack in October 1957 at the age of 52, Dior drove what is considered the international renaissance of French couture.

“This exhibition will be the biggest Dior retrospective ever held in Australia,” said Sidney Toledano, Chief Executive Christian Dior Couture. “It will cover seventy years of creation, presenting the emblematic work of Christian Dior and his successors, including Maria Grazia Chiuri, who arrived last July and is the first woman at the head of the couture house.”

The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture
NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Exhibition: 27 August – 7 November 2017
Admission fees apply

For more information, visit: ngv.melbourne for details.

Image: National Gallery of Victoria and House of Dior announce House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture at NGV International, August 2017. Models (left to right): Sandra Sundelin, Alejandra Zuluaga, Ella Bond, Maddison Lukes, and Bela Pelacio Hazewinkel – photo by Wayne Taylor

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