but it was beyond what we imagined. The story of Christian Dior is one of hope and happiness following the detriment of World War II, and I believe that is something that people can grasp and relate to—it speaks to people.” Over two years in the making, the exhibit proved a challenge simply because of the breadth of the house’s archive. Poring over thousands of objects, Müller pulled off what she calls “an amazing feat” of winnowing down the work into a show she has staged chronologically. The displays move through Christian Dior’s hyper-feminine post-war “New Look” to Yves Saint Laurent’s haute couture– gone-beatnik years (1958–1960), past more commercial collections by Marc Bohan (1961–1989) and Gianfranco Ferré (1989–1996) onto John Galliano’s (1997–2011) over-the-top bias-cut gowns and Raf Simon’s (2012–2015) cleverly constructed silhouettes. The exhibition culminates in an exploration of present-day work by Maria Grazia Chiuri, the first female designer of the house. While examining the voluminous skirts and nipped waists that put Dior on the map, it’s hard to recall that his early garments had more than their share of detractors. In fact, it took the designer winning the esteemed Neiman Marcus Award in 1947 for ladies across the United States to embrace the Dior direction. Dior’s close ties with the store’s Stanley Marcus get a special spotlight in the DMA’s iteration, and their long friendship is illustrated through photographs and other ephemera drawn from Southern Methodist University’s fashion archives. Marcus and Dior “developed this real friendship that’s something we’ll be exploring more,” says the DMA’s Margot B.
Look 31, Christian Dior by Maria Grazia Chiuri, Haute Couture Fall-Winter 2017. Courtesy of Dior.
Perot Senior Curator of Decorative Arts, Sarah Schleuning. “It makes a great connection between how much of a frontrunner Dallas was to new fashion and new ideas.” Also fresh to Dallas are 32 dresses not on view in the Denver show, as well as new staging created by architect Shohei Shigematsu for OMA. Formerly drawing on the curvature of the feminine form for his set, he has added the ordered lines of 18th-century French gardens, an homage to Dior’s love of gardening and floral motifs. “Shohei is always inspired by the unique qualities of the museum in which the exhibition is being presented,” says Müller. “The large vault and cross that is the Dallas Museum of Art play into the exhibition design narrative. This gave Shohei the idea of a pattern, a design similar to a French garden that is replicated in the design of the museum as well.” With its subtle additions and Texan twist, the show is sure to uphold its blockbuster status. And this rare opportunity to see the intricacy and imagination behind the seams should thrill even the most casual of fashion fans. What Sarah Schleuning hopes the viewer will take away from Dior: From Paris to the World is an appreciation of what true talent and attention to detail can bring to a life’s labor. “I think the thing that’s really impressed me as I’ve delved into the show and the work is the incredible respect for Christian Dior’s ideas—he built this foundation of craftsmanship and the cuts and these incredible lines that have continued to hold up. Even though they are referenced in different ways by different people, they’re always deeply rooted in the tenets of Christian Dior. And creativity with craftsmanship is a powerful aphrodisiac.” P
Look 28, Christian Dior by Maria Grazia Chiuri, Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2018. Courtesy of Dior.