The exhibition Dior: The Legendary Images, taking place this summer at the Musée Christian Dior in Granville, brings together two hundred iconic snapshots to tell the story of the couturier and the history of the House. We take you on a guided tour, courtesy of exhibition curator Florence Müller.
High above Granville, in Normandy, the pink villa in which Christian Dior spent his childhood rises above the sea, its rose garden scenting the salty air with a delicate fragrance. Now belonging to the town of Granville, this museum is home to the exhibition Dior: The Legendary Images . Put together by the fashion historian Florence Müller, this retrospective traverses the history of the House but also that of photography as it employs over two hundred images, some sixty dresses and around fifty documents. The tone is set once one crosses the threshold: the emblematic Bar suit as created by Christian Dior in 1947 stands next to Raf Simons' 2012 reinterpretation. "This first juxtaposition heralds the common thread that runs through the exhibition, allowing one to understand that chapter after chapter the Dior codes reinvent and enrich themselves in tandem with the photographer's sensibilities, " Florence Müller explains. Lining the papered walls are photographs by names including Cecil Beaton, Irving Penn, Patrick Demarchelier, Henry Clarke and Richard, and we discover the incredible story of the young American photographer Pat English, the only one authorised to be present at the very first show on 12 February 1947 organized in the tony atmosphere of 30 Avenue Montaigne.
These snapshots published in Life revealed the talent behind the lens as well as the revolution that was the New Look . Each in its own way, all these images have contributed to the creation of a myth: "The Dior style is made for photographing, being captured in motion; and it can also boast the most emblematically elegant Parisian backdrops, such as the Place de la Concorde, the Jardin des Tuileries, and of course Versailles, " she adds. In the conservatory where the rose window lets the sun's rays pass through, an intimate image of Christian Dior is revealed; serene on a rock at his Colle Noire chateau or taken by surprise by Brassaï in his Paris apartment on rue Royale. The house models of the past, Lucky, Victoire, Renée - the "chéries " as Christian Dior liked to call them - meet the muses of today - Marion Cotillard, Jennifer Lawrence, and Charlize Theron. This voyage of discovery continues upstairs, with an explanation of how the images were constructed: "A lot of pencil marks, collage and white paint where involved in the effort to retouch, doctor and recompose the images, it was very artisanal, " Florence Müller comments. "This magnificent panorama ends with a room covered in magazine covers of Dior, it's truly grandiose, " she concludes.