Sep 9, 2021
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Brooklyn Museum puts Dior in dialogue with New York

Sep 9, 2021

The "Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams" exhibition broke visitor records in the French and British capitals in 2017 and 2019. Now the brand, which is owned by luxury conglomerate LVMH, has brought the event to New York just in time for Fashion Week, offering a more American perspective on Christian Dior.

The "Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams" at New York's Brooklyn Museum, September 7, 2021 - AFP

In 1947, the French couturier found phenomenal success in Paris with his debut "Corolle" collection, which was swiftly rebaptized the "New Look" by Harper's Bazaar and which revolutionized the fashion of the time with a reimagined silhouette, featuring a cinched waist, rounded hips and a flared skirt. 

In the U.S., Dior was invited to Dallas to receive the Neiman Marcus Award from the famous luxury department store of the same name. His passage through Chicago saw protests from women who rejected his long "grandma" skirts. 

Christian Dior skirts at the Brooklyn Museum - AFP

But in 1948, the designer opened a store on New York's Fifth Avenue, which he would discover in a state of "constant wonder," as the designer himself described it. "He began his exploration of the world starting with the foundation of this house in 1948," says the exhibition's curator, Florence Müller, who describes Dior as a "pioneer in the globalization of fashion." 

A passion for art

The almost 75 years of the house's history are told through some 300 dresses, passing through the designers who succeeded the French couturier after his death in 1957, from Yves Saint Laurent to Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dior's current creative director and the first woman to occupy the post. 

Christian Dior pieces at the Brooklyn Museum - AFP

In the exhibition's "Magic Garden," an airy space decorated with a shower of stars, visitors have a 360-degree view of the brand's collections, which are displayed from floor to ceiling. 

"Around two-thirds of the dresses weren't presented in Paris" during the original exhibition, emphasizes Müller. "Here, Dior didn't make haute couture. He made very luxurious ready-to-wear" for "Americans looking for something more comfortable, more wearable, perhaps," she explains. 

Christian Dior looks at the Brooklyn Museum - AFP

The Brooklyn Museum has also managed to create a dialogue between the label and works in its own collection. "Dior had a passion for art. You can see it in his designs," says Matthew Yokobosky, the museum's senior curator of fashion and material culture. 

Upon entering the exhibition, visitors are greeted by a delicate porcelain model dressed in a black dress, which was designed by Christian Dior himself and which the institution acquired in 1949 for an exhibition focused on French fashion. 

Later, visitors are invited to ponder the striking resemblance between a dress designed by John Galliano and a painting by early-20th-century Italian artist Giovanni Boldini. 

A photo by American artist Richard Avedon displated with a Dior design - AFP

More recently, Maria Grazia Chiuri collaborated on a runway show with feminist American artist Judy Chicago, whose monumental "The Dinner Party" is displayed at the Brooklyn Museum. 

Finally, there are also rooms dedicated to Hollywood stars wearing Dior and to American photographers, such as Richard Avedon, who immortalized some of the couture house's pieces. 

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