Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Exhibition of 2019: Christian Dior at the Victoria & Albert Museum Review

christian dior exhibition v and a fan dress
Let me just start by saying I love the Victoria & Albert museum, or the V&A as it is lovingly known in London and by its many devoted members, fans and followers. So this may hold some bias.

I’ve been to some truly glorious exhibitions over the past two years - Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up, Ocean Liners: Speed and Style - and when the news broke about Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, I was chomping at the bit to go.

*Just a note - if you want to see some pictures and hear gushing words, read on. TL;DR sitch? It’s the best V&A exhibition I’ve ever seen and you must beg, borrow or steal tickets at any cost because it has totally sold out.


christian dior exhibition victoria albert museum
So back to Friday 8th February, my Mum and I grabbed some tea and cake before the exhibition and joined the long line snaking its way around the entrance to the most talked about fashion exhibition of 2019 so far.

I was pretty surprised by the queue. I don’t think I’ve ever queued to get into an exhibition I’ve pre-booked before, but here we all were - cascading down a spiral staircase and into the wonderland of Dior: Designer of Dreams.

christian dior exhibition v and a princess margaret dress
As soon as I saw the first dress, I knew this was going to be big.

As in, glossy magazine coverage and spot-the-celeb-in-the-crowd big.

christian dior exhibition v and a white bow dress
christian dior exhibition v and a red dress
christian dior exhibition v and a black dress
First of all? It was huge. There were room and rooms of beautiful examples of pioneering Dior design from the 50s to the present day. So if you’re last minute needing to lose some time and the London rain is threatening to roll its way over the city, it took my Mum and I roughly two and a half hours from start to finish… and we’re not slow walkers or arty lingerers. I believe the V&A release a limited number of on-the-day tickets if you walk in, but you have to be quick. And lucky.

christian dior exhibition v and a embroidered suit
christian dior exhibition v and a embroidered dress
christian dior exhibition v and a period style dress
Secondly, the curation was award-winning. Each piece in every room was chosen to showcase different styles, designers, eras and hallmarks of the house; with work from Christian Dior himself to the controversial John Galliano and the present day maestro, Maria Grazia Chiuri. I loved seeing the unique flair each Creative Director has brought to Dior, whilst still honouring the incredible lines and silhouette that made this fashion house a household name. Red carpet worthy dresses took centre stage, but the accessories - hats, bags, jewelry and shoes - were almost as breathtaking. Case in point - a pair of translucent voile gloves with neon floral embroidery.

christian dior exhibition v and a indian dress
christian dior exhibition v and a floral dress
christian dior exhibition v and a embroidered gloves
Thirdly, the history and process of creation was not just mentioned, but interwoven - like the exquisite lines of any signature Dior piece - throughout the exhibit. You are reminded at all times of the craftsmanship, heritage and dedication to art from start to fabulous finish. One of my favourite rooms housed white toile copies of signature pieces across the last 50 years from floor to ceiling, which cleverly showcased the innovative design in each tuck, fold and pleat.

christian dior exhibition v and a sample
Fourth, it was a visual delight. Truly. From floor to ceiling, every detail had been cleverly and masterfully thought of. Special mention goes to the lighting and scene-setting, which was exquisite throughout each room and inspired curiosity and reverence.

christian dior exhibition v and a wisteria
christian dior exhibition v and a floral dresses
christian dior exhibition v and a flower dress
From a stately home garden to an enchanted wisteria forest, my favourite room of all was just before the close - look away now if you don’t want a spoiler. The ceiling showcased a slow projection of natural scenes, from fire to underwater to the Milky Way, bouncing light around the room to mimic a natural rainbow of early dawn, brightest midday to honeyed sunset and deep night. It was mesmerising and we stuck around for a full rotation (ok maybe two) to watch the effects on each dress, which glowed with embellishment and detail depending on the changing light.

christian dior exhibition v and a embroidered floral dress
christian dior exhibition v and a petal dress
christian dior exhibition v and a scallop dress
Fifth and finally - perhaps an odd point, but I’ll make it nevertheless. Tickets were on sale for between £20-24 and I honestly believe that this represents incredible value for money. And... that this may - *gasp* - be too cheap for an exhibition of this calibre.

christian dior exhibition v and a ruffled dress
christian dior exhibition v and a
Now word is out on just how good it is, I’m not surprised the V&A were faced with 100 deep queues and a sold out status. So if you’re really weighing up turning up on the day to try your luck for a ticket, I’ll put it to you straight; I’ve never once considered a repeat trip to an exhibition (and I might just pip you to the post).

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