Exhibition: NGV’s The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture

The National Gallery of Victoria’s exhibition, The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture, ticks all the boxes for any fashion lover.

The Dior exhibition on at NGV International is a fashion lover's delight.

The Dior exhibition on at NGV International is a fashion lover’s delight.*

You see plenty of Dior designs and, thanks to detailed accompanying information, can learn about the Dior story and its influence on generations of designers.

Exclusive to the NGV International, the exhibition features more than 140 garments from Christian Dior Couture designed between 1947 and 2017. There are also two Dior haute couture works, especially commissioned for the exhibition and acquired by the gallery.  They are Essence d’Herbier from the spring–summer 2017 collection, designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri and Look 10, Bar coat from the autumn-winter 2012–13 collection, designed by Raf Simons.

Some of the many clothes on display at the Dior exhibition at NGV International.

Some of the many clothes on display at the Dior exhibition at NGV International.*

Other exhibition highlights include examples from Christian Dior’s iconic spring 1947 ‘New Look’ collection, considered to be a ground-breaking effort in the history of fashion. There’s a stunning display of Dior’s signature ball gowns and evening dresses, as well as recent designs from the House’s first female creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri.

Then there is Miranda Kerr’s custom-made Christian Dior Couture wedding dress, designed especially for Kerr by Maria Grazia-Chiuri, as well as the chartreuse sheath worn by Nicole Kidman to the 1997 Oscars.

Miranda Kerr's wedding dress.

Miranda Kerr’s wedding dress.*

Drawing primarily on material from the House of Dior archive and the NGV Collection, the exhibition also features accessories, sketches, photographs, haute couture toiles (prototypes) and multimedia.

It covers 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.

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.

The sweeping staircase

The sweeping staircase.*

Another of the exhibition’s highlights is its staging. There’s a grand, sweeping staircase leading to a mezzanine level where you get a birds-eye view of the vast array of garments on show. This feature is inspired by the iconic staircase from the Paris couture house, featured in countless photo-shoots and fashion parades over Dior’s 70 year history.

It’s easy to see why the NGV says this is one of its most ambitious exhibition designs.

While I must admit to not necessarily understanding haute couture, judging by the admiring comments around me I am in the minority. However I could certainly appreciate the quality, and in some cases the beauty, of the garments on display. It’s just that I couldn’t ever imagine me wearing the majority of the items on show!

The exhibition features a section dedicated to accessories including shoes.

The exhibition features a section dedicated to accessories including shoes.*

Whatever your opinion of haute couture, the exhibition offers a great opportunity to see and learn about one of its icons.

The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture is on at NGV International, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne until November 7. Visit the NGV website for more information and tickets.

*Photo credit: Sean Fennessy.

Jenny Burns attended the media briefing of the exhibition as a guest of NGV International.

Visit travelswithjb,com.au-exhibitions for more exhibition reviews.

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