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Grace Kelly and Liz Taylor’s Dior dresses displayed in new exhibit


Christian Dior experienced one particular fantastic ambition: to make ladies “not just extra lovely, but also happier.”

The Paris-based trend designer debuted his haute couture line in 1947, and his sophisticated nipped-midsection jackets and extravagantly voluminous skirts sparked a sensation following the grim austerity of Entire world War II.

“The world is beautifully full of attractive ladies whose styles and tastes present an inexhaustible diversity,” the couturier explained in his 1956 autobiography, “Dior by Dior.” “My assortment will have to cater separately for each individual one of them.”

On its deal with, the strategy that a couture designer can cater to everybody in the environment is ludicrous. (Taste apart, a tailor made frock expenditures hundreds of thousands of dollars.) But, a new exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum displays that Dior sincerely thought it.  

The dress Jennifer Lawrence wore to the 2013 Oscars is among the finery on display at the Brooklyn Museum exhibition Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams.
The gown Jennifer Lawrence wore to the 2013 Oscars is between the finery on screen at the Brooklyn Museum exhibition “Christian Dior: Designer of Goals.”
Stefano Giovannini

“Christian Dior: Designer of Goals,” at the Brooklyn Museum through Feb. 20, explores extra than 70 yrs at the manner label. (Dior died in 1957, and the manufacturer has experienced 6 designers due to the fact, together with Yves Saint Laurent, John Galliano and Maria Grazia Chiuri, who is presently in charge.) The clearly show involves more than 200 garments — such as gowns worn by Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly and Princess Diana — as properly as shots, drawings, components and other artifacts that display the seductive electric power of this rarefied couture property.

Elizabeth Taylor took home the Best Actress Oscar for "Butterfield 8" in 1961 clad in a Dior gown, on view at the exhibit.
Elizabeth Taylor took dwelling the Very best Actress Oscar for “Butterfield 8” in 1961 clad in a Dior gown, now on view at the show.
Alamy Inventory Image

“At the founding of the Christian Dior [brand, he] talked about the simple fact that he was creating clothing for a range of ladies,” Brooklyn Museum’s Matthew Yokobosky — who curated the demonstrate with historian Florence Müller — told The Submit. He built girls sense particular, loved — and not just by means of his dresses. At each and every of his salons, he experienced products of diverse skin tones and overall body kinds, so when a consumer frequented, she could see the garments on a female who resembled her. He authorized “you to visualize by yourself in his garments,” Yokobosky included.

Dior manufactured its debut in February 1947, and American vogue editors swooned. Carmel Snow of Harper’s Bazaar heralded his wasp-waisted, full-skirted silhouette as “the new look” following years of brief hemlines thanks to fabric shortages and war-impressed military-fashion jackets. Youthful American photographers, this sort of as Richard Avedon and Gordon Parks, shot his sumptuous dresses out on the avenue, offering them an interesting relaxed glamour.

By the time he built his initial journey to the US, later that tumble, Dior was a star.

“When he would get into a taxi taxi, the driver would acknowledge him and say, ‘Are skirt hemlines heading up or down?’ ” Yokobosky explained. “Even adult males had been getting these conversations with him.”

Marlene Dietrich in Dior in "Stage Fright"
Marlene Dietrich wore the designer in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Stage Fright,” and told the director “No Dior, no Dietrich” when he very first wanted her to engage in the job.
© Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

Not everyone embraced the Frenchman: a group of women, calling by themselves the “Little Beneath the Knee Club,” picketed his arrival in Chicago with signs declaring “Mr. Dior, we abhor hemlines to the floor.” 

Dior, on the other hand, gained the country over, many thanks in part to a gaggle of Hollywood fans, these kinds of as Grace Kelly and Marlene Dietrich. The experience was mutual. Astounded by the pace and performance of Seventh Avenue makers, he opened Christian Dior-New York, to deliver much less highly-priced, considerably less fussy variations of his couture confections, observed in the show.

A selection of dresses at the Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum
Motivated by Dior’s really like of blooms, the museum remodeled its Beaux Arts Court docket into an “enchanted garden” to showcase the brand’s floral frocks, like an exuberant strapless dress from Gianfanco Ferré’s 1994 selection.
Stefano Giovannini

The present demonstrates how his successors have up to date Dior’s legacy just after his death. Saint Laurent released leather-based jackets in the late ’50s Gianfranco Ferré introduced postmodern glitz in the ’80s. Galliano tapped into the founder’s like of fantasy and romance in the late ’90s and early 2000s, when Chiuri has offered the brand name a far more feminist spin. What has remained of Dior’s first eyesight, and what shines most in this dazzling exhibition, is that potential to make a lady dream of a a lot more beautiful, a lot more amazing, far more beautiful lifetime — just by means of vogue.

“It’s placing femininity on a pedestal,” mentioned Müller, about the brand’s enduring appeal. “To be proud of getting a girl, and currently being happy of every single component of it. That is Dior.” 

More dresses at the Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum
Maria Grazia Chiuri has infused Dior’s signature femininity with lightness, as noticed in this quartet of diaphanous chiffon and lace gowns.
Stefano Giovannini


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