In this debut installment of this summer saga, we turn the clock back to 19 March 1987 when all Paris turned out at the Musée des Arts de la Mode, now known as the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, for the opening of the exhibition Hommage à Christian Dior, 1947-1957 , the first devoted to the couturier.
Forty years after the New Look , on 12 February 1947, when Christian Dior presented his first two lines Corolle andEn 8in the bouquet-bedecked salons of 30 Avenue Montaigne in Paris, the Musée des Arts de la Mode paid homage for the first time to the couturier Christian Dior. More than one hundred and fifty four garments and three hundred documents were displayed over five stories providing a unique perspective on the house of Dior’s origins.
The exhibition opened with a look at his youth in Granville, his artist life, his years as a gallerist and his inspiring encounters. Through the black and white photographs he could be seen surrounded by his “high-class chiefs of staff” as he liked to call them – Mitzah Bricard, Raymonde Zehnacker and Marguerite Carré – on the staircase of 30 Avenue Montaigne, then appearing pensive on the legendary building’s balcony or looking over his sketches. Further on, he could be seen in fancy dress as a lion for the “Bal des Rois” given in 1949 by the count Etienne de Beaumont, or in the company of some of his prestigious clients and famous friends such as Olivia de Havilland, Ava Gardner and Marlene Dietrich.
In the photographs of house models immortalized on the streets of Paris or caught in the middle of fittings, the names of the lines had a slogan-like power and drew the viewer with a sense of delight into each of the presentations: Libre, Fuseau, A, Verticale , Milieu du Siècle… The snapshots granted clear views of the details of certain embroideries such as the delicate daisies of the Vilmorin dress from the Sinueuse line designed in 1952 as an homage to a favoured seed catalogue from his youth. This exhibition illustrated his love of flowers and his desire to always make women more beautiful and elegant.
And this exhibition also showcased the illustrations by his two close friends Christian Bérard and René Gruau, with a drawing by the latter chosen as the poster image for this first-ever retrospective devoted to the favorite couturier of elegant women the world over.
Summer Saga: Dior and Art, Crossed Paths – The Great Exhibitions, Episode 1
© SARL René Gruau: Affiche de l'UCAD