This exhibition at the Christian Dior Museum explores the fashion house's ties with the art world
4th May - 29th September 2013
Christian Dior Museum - Granville
Dior and Impressionism
The Impressions Dior exhibition, hosted by the Christian Dior Museum in Granville as part of the Normandie impressionniste festival, is an invitation to explore unique sensations and images that examine the common sensibilities shared by haute couture creativity and the Impressionnist movement.
« Then in the Spring
the Tulip line appeared, marked by the blossoming of the bust and the effacement of the hips. The waist was more and more emancipated. The colours were inspired by Impressionist paintings and evoked the fields of flowers dear to Renoir and Van Gogh. » Christian Dior
Granville, the original inspiration
The former family home of the designer is a house characteristic of the Norman coast, which inspired so many motifs of Impressionist painting. Christian Dior often found inspiration for his designs in memories of his childhood in Normandy.
An ode to female beauty
is another theme common to Impressionist painting and haute couture. In scenes from the boudoir, a visit to the milliner's, taking a walk or at the ball, Degas, Manet and Renoir capture the fleeting picture of feminine charm. In his dresses, hats and fine lingerie, Dior translated into contemporary fashion the spirit of elegance of the Impressionist era.
In Impressions Dior, a selection of more than 70 dresses, some 50 photographs and 100 accessories and documents, as well as a collection of around 20 paintings, drawings, watercolours and photographs, points to aesthetic, formal and thematic links between fashion and art. This intuitive dialogue between haute couture and Impressionism has been made possible by loans from Musée d’Orsay, Musée Marmottant, Musée des Arts décoratifs and private collectors, which are displayed alongside the collections of Dior Heritage and the Christian Dior Museum.
Nature as studio
« After woman, flowers are the most lovely thing God gave the world. »
Christian Dior, The Little Dictionary of Fashion, London, 1954.
Christian Dior loved flowers. A taste acquired as a child with his mother in the walled garden of Les Rhumbs Villa in Granville, and honed later in life in successive country homes, transposed in his dresses throughout his career as a designer. Even beyond Avenue Montaigne, the years 1947-1957 were a fertile period for floral motifs in fashion in general, and Dior's personal penchant happened to crystallise this zeitgeist. He became a head gardener of sorts of this renaissance, its inspired horticulturist.
Spring. Plum Trees in Blossom.
Camille Pissarro, oil on canvas, 1877. Paris, Musée d’Orsay.
Muguet dress in white cotton organdy, embroidered with bells of lily-of-the-valley
Haute Couture Spring-Summer Collection 1957, Libre line
The Artist's Garden at Giverny
Claude Monet, oil on canvas, 1900. Paris, Musée d’Orsay.
White organza muslin-embroidered evening gown with pointillist shading
Haute Couture Autumn-Winter Collection 2012. Christian Dior by Raf Simons.
Claude Monet, oil on canvas, 1873. Paris, Musée d’Orsay.
Three-layered multicoloured embroidered silk and tulle bustier evening dress
Haute Couture Spring-Summer Collection 2013. Christian Dior by Raf Simons.
Dior and Impressionist-era fashions
« The elegance of a woman may be judged by her feet »
The defining characteristic of the Christian Dior revolution that began in 1947 was his original take on the elegance immortalised by Impressionism. His dream inspiration gallery was stocked with the crinoline skirts, bustle gowns and corolla toilettes that transformed the female silhouette between 1860 and 1900.
Three Ladies with Parasol
Marie Bracquemond, oil on canvas, between 1841 and 1916. Paris, Musée d’Orsay.
« Fête » evening gown in boreal pink faille
Haute Couture Spring-Summer Collection 1948, Envol line
Young Woman Dressed for the Ball
Berthe Morisot, oil on canvas, 1879. Paris, Musée d’Orsay.
« Jour de fête » evening gown in white organza
Haute Couture Spring-Summer Collection 1955, A line
At the Milliner's
Edgar Degas, oil on canvas, 1879-1886. The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago.
Granville Museum is housed in the former family home of the designer, an edifice characteristic of the Norman coast. In his youth, Christian Dior would gaze out at sweeping sea views and enjoy with his mother the flowerbeds, pergola, rose garden and sea pines of the ornate garden they laid out together.
Les Rhumbs Villa, childhood home of Christian Dior
When Madeleine Dior first laid eyes on this villa - which resembles more a sturdy little manor than a stylish residence - she decided to make it her own. With a similar strength of conviction to that displayed by her son Christian many years later with regard to the mansion at 30, Avenue Montaigne. Back in 1905, the future designer still an infant, Madeleine persuaded Maurice Dior to purchase the house with the neverending vistas. The property perched above Granville, a mere kilometre outside what was “a sleepy port town for nine months of the year and (in summer turned into) an elegant quarter of Paris”. His was quite a childhood in the isolated confines of the house. Christian would wile away the hours learning by heart the names of plants and flowers from Vilmorin-Andrieux seed catalogues; listening to the women sing hit of the day « L’Hirondelle de Faubourg » in the warmth of the laundry room; gazing up at the ceiling rose in his bedroom. Christian Dior always thought of Granville with “a nostalgia for stormy nights, foghorns, the death knell sounding a funeral and the Norman drizzle in the midst of which (his childhood) was spent”. He tended the flame of Granville for the rest of his days, recreating the spirit of the place in colours (pink and grey), scents (rose and lily-of-the-valley), sturdy, elegant shapes, and an atmosphere of sheltered peacefulness that befits a family home.
Christian Dior's love of flowers and gardens
« The garden that guarded my childhood » is how Christian Dior described the garden of the villa in which he was raised in Granville, Normandy. His mother, Madeleine, was a keen gardener. Christian inherited her love of flowers and was fascinated by the shapes, colours and poetry of this joyous, generous slice of nature. He spent much of his time engrossed in seed catalogues where he learnt by heart the Latin names of the flowers. He delved into landscaping in his teenage years, designing a pool and pergola for the garden of the family home. The young Dior saw the garden as a temple of beauty, calm and contemplation, and his prodigious insight remains to this day a manifesto for landscapers all over the world. He loved flowers most of all. When he became a designer, he wanted them everywhere. Dior dreamt of a world filled with flower-women and attributed floral names to his creations. He endowed with the grace of a rose every one of his dresses, whose meticulous structures and beautiful fabrics and embroidery gave an impression of fragility and infinite beauty. Calices, petals, pistils and stamens rendered in minute detail on evening gowns resembled the work of a brilliant botanist. Between 1947 and 1957 Dior named more than 50 models after roses.
Christian Dior Museum opens at the former family home in Granville
History had in store darker days for Les Rhumbs. The family were staying at Granville when the First World War broke out. They chose not to return to Paris, retreating instead behind the comforting walled safety of the villa and garden. Staunchly loyal to the Allied Forces, this safe haven became one of the first casualties of the Dior family's bankruptcy in the wake of the 1929 crash. The property was auctioned off and the furniture sold piecemeal. The garden was turned into a public park in the 1970s. The estate would not return to Dior hands until almost two decades later.
4th May - 29th September 2013
Christian Dior Museum - Granville
Rue d'Estouteville 50400 Granville, France Tel: +33 2 33 61 48 21