When Christian Dior made his debut in 1947, the fashion world was shocked. In contrast to the conservative post-WWII style, Dior’s designs celebrated the female figure’s curves, with rounded shoulders, a generous bust, a tiny waist, and accentuated hips. Fans of haute couture and celebrities like Rita Hayworth immediately praised Dior’s focus on strong, architectural lines and celebration of femininity.
Over the past 70 years, Dior has been a fixture on the high fashion scene, with a powerful influence on high fashion as well as ready-to-wear. To honor Dior’s history and influence, the Denver Art Museum unveiled its newest exhibit, Dior: From Paris to the World, which showcases some of Dior’s works, in a brilliantly designed and complimentary exhibit.
The DAM’s exhibit is a chronological timeline through Dior’s seven designers, divided into 15 rooms, with over 200 haute couture dresses displayed. Accessories, photographs, sketches, runway videos, and other archival materials complement the fashions.
Organized by the DAM and curated by Florence Müller, the DAM’s Avenir Foundation curator of textile art and fashion, the exhibit was three years in the making. Joining Müller in bringing the exhibition to life is Shohei Shigematsu, partner/director of OMA New York, who designed the exhibition, building off of the architecture of the Hamilton Building to showcase over 70 years of Dior.
Each piece of the exhibit was designed by Shigematsu and Muller to lead the guest on a journey through Dior’s designers: Yves Saint Laurent (1958–1960), Marc Bohan (1961–1989), Gianfranco Ferré (1989–1996), John Galliano (1997–2011), Raf Simons (2012–2015), and Maria Grazia Chiuri (2016–present).
The exhibit begins with a look at the designs and final pieces of Christian Dior’s original works. Next, it weaves its way through the house’s seven designers, featuring the spectacularly flamboyant works of Ferre, the controversial work of Galiano, Dior’s influence in celebrity culture, and finally showcasing the modern works of the current designer, Maria Grazia Chiuri. As current head of the House of Dior, Chiuri immediately made her mark on the brand as an activist designer with the slogan “We should all be feminists” emblazoned on her ready-to-wear collection.
Throughout the House of Dior’s 70 years, its work has played a key role in fashion’s point of view. Dior has been especially popular in Hollywood, with Grace Kelly dressed in Dior for her engagement announcement to Prince Rainier of Monaco. Marilyn Monroe appeared in a backless Dior dress in her last photo shoot. Now, celebrities like Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence, Natalie Portman, and Rihanna represent the brand on red carpets. Dior’s symbol of Parisian haute couture is one that’s celebrated and magnified in this retrospective exhibition.
Just for Kids
The exhibition has a special audio guide for kids. Follow along as Christian Dior’s sister Catherine shares stories and insights about the brand’s dresses and more. At the end of the exhibition, kids are offered their own Dior puzzle that turns into a coat and includes a bag that can be assembled to carry the coat.
Need to Know: Dior: From Paris to the World will be on display in the Denver Art Museum’s Hamilton Building through March 3, 2019. Tickets can be purchased online, and advance reservations are recommended. Tickets are $24-$28 for adults, $5 for ages six to 18, and free for kids five and under. Adult members save 50 percent on tickets.