For over three months, Dior: From Paris to the World was captivating and stunning those who ventured out to Denver Art Museum in Denver, Colorado. This traveling exhibition brought seven decades of Dior’s haute couture fashion into the spotlight and allowed the public to explore the brand’s history, design process, and some iconic pieces.
Following the end of World War II, Christian Dior created his fashion house to bring a softer silhouette to women’s fashion. With the introduction and success of ‘The Bar Suit’ in 1947, the look quickly became iconic in fashion history. This success brought Dior’s new fashion house into the spotlight and made the brand a household name across the globe. Ten years after the launch of his first collection, Christian Dior died of a sudden heart attack. Since his death, six people have stood as the artistic director of Dior; all of which have their own highlighted galleries in Dior: From Paris to the World.
Entry into the exhibition was fairly strict and a special timed entry ticket was necessary. Denver Art Museum offered special combination tickets for $24 that included the special exhibition and general admission to the museum. When I went to see Dior: From Paris to the World, the line was fairly empty since it was nearing the end of its stay. However, most days were at capacity and 80 people could be admitted to the exhibition every fifteen minutes, so upwards of 320 people could be in the space at any moment. For some of the later galleries, this number of people was not an issue. However, the early galleries were quite small and people lingered to read every label, listen to every audio piece, and walk in a factory line format. The day I visited was not close to selling out and yet, the early galleries were quite crowded with people viewing all that was on display.
Apart from the crowds, the exhibition was stunning and beautifully executed. In the first few galleries, many of the pieces were monochromatic with an occasional pop of color through fabric swatches or an outfit. At every entrance to the next gallery, you would hear ‘wow!’ from guests as each space kept you awed. Rooms were filled from floor to ceiling with objects, visual media, and unique wall displays. However, this mass of content never felt overwhelming. Of all the galleries, the most striking one contained a multi-colored display of gowns, jewelry, accessories, and shoes. Guests, myself included, stood and stared for at least ten minutes, taking in each piece and each color. As the exhibition continued, color began to bleed more and more into each piece. Galleries began to focus on inspirations with dresses next to the piece that gave the designer inspiration and pay tribute to each former, and current, artistic director of Dior.
Upon entering the final gallery, jaws fell and stayed on the floor. Dozens of dresses on multilevel podiums brought the world to Dior: From Paris to the World. Each dress paid homage to a country through symbolic colors, designs, styles, and ornaments. Of all the galleries in the exhibition, this was the one that truly blew me away and where I spent at least half an hour. Between listening to the audio guide, admiring each gown, and watching archival media, this final From Paris to the World gallery was a masterpiece and my one wish was that I spent more time within it.
Overall, the Dior: From Paris to the World was well worth the cost of entry and a spectacular way to spend an hour or two. The exhibition will be opening in Dallas, Texas on 19 May 2019, so if you are in the area or able to take a trip to the Dallas Museum of Art, I highly recommend a visit to see some stunning Dior creations.
Erin Newman is a Museum Educator at Naper Settlement where she helps conduct educational programming and lead tours about local life in the 19th Century. Erin is also a recent graduate of the University of Leicester where she got her MA in Museum Studies. During her time there, she specialized in heritage and focused her research on the US and UK museum sector shifts under the rise of post-truth. @ENewman_13