Fashion as Art

Dallas Museum of Art fetes 70 years of famous French fashion house

Dallas Museum of Art fetes 70 years of famous French fashion house

Dallas Museum of Art presents Dior: From Paris to the World
Christian Dior draping fabric over model Sylvie, 1948. Photo courtesy of Christian Dior

French fashion will fill the Dallas Museum of Art when "Dior: From Paris to the World" opens in spring 2019. The exhibition will celebrate and survey more than 70 years of the French house’s legacy and global influence.

The exhibition debuted in November at the Denver Art Museum, and the DMA will be the only other U.S. venue to host the retrospective. It will go on view May 19 through September 1, 2019.

The DMA says the exhibition will feature more than 100 haute couture dresses, as well as accessories, photographs, original sketches, runway videos, and other archival material, the museum says. It will trace the history of the iconic fashion house and will profile its founder, Christian Dior, and subsequent artistic directors, including Yves Saint Laurent (1958–1960), Marc Bohan (1961–1989), Gianfranco Ferré (1989–1996), John Galliano (1997–2011), Raf Simons (2012–2015) and Maria Grazia Chiuri (2016–present), who have carried Dior’s vision into the 21st century.

“The House of Dior has been a legendary force in fashion and visual culture for decades and continues to be an important influence that blurs the lines between fashion and art,” says Agustín Arteaga, the DMA’s Eugene McDermott Director, in a release. “Dallas has long recognized the artistic significance of Dior, most notably when in 1947, early in his career, Christian Dior traveled here to receive the Neiman Marcus Award for fashion. We are excited to welcome this innovative creative voice back to our city and to offer DMA audiences the opportunity to be inspired by the remarkable legacy of a global icon.”

The new retrospective is organized by the Denver museum and curated by Florence Müller, the DAM’s Avenir Foundation Curator of Textile Art and Fashion. It is designed by Shohei Shigematsu, OMA Partner and Director of the global firm’s New York office. Sarah Schleuning, The Margot B. Perot Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the DMA, curates the Dallas presentation.

In their release, the DMA describes the history and influence of Dior thusly: "Christian Dior generated a revolution in Paris and around the globe after World War II in 1947 with his New Look collection. Dior, the art gallerist who became a celebrated couturier, completely shed the masculine silhouette that had been established during the war, expressing modern femininity with his debut collection. Dior’s sophisticated designs, featuring soft shoulders, accentuated busts, nipped waists, and dancing corolla shaped skirts, were inspired by his passion for flowers. The result was elegant feminine contours that brought a breath of fresh air to the fashion world through luxurious swaths of fabrics, revolutionary design and lavish embroidery. This marked the beginning of an epic movement in fashion history that would eventually lead to Dior successfully becoming the first worldwide couture house."

The DMA will mount this major exhibition with loans from the esteemed Dior Héritage Collection, many of which have rarely been seen outside of Europe, with additional loans from major institutions.

"The presentation, showcasing pivotal themes in the House of Dior’s global history, will focus on how Christian Dior cemented his fashion house’s reputation within a decade and established the house worldwide — as well as highlight how his successors adeptly incorporated their own design aesthetic," the museum says.

“The history and impact of The House of Dior is the result of a convergence of several artistic directors who have made visionary, yet distinct, contributions to the French haute couture house,” said Sarah Schleuning, The Margot B. Perot Senior Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the DMA. “The exhibition takes audiences through more than seven decades of innovation, bringing together the most exciting, dynamic, and pivotal pieces.”

Visitors also will be able to examine the unique technique of the Dior ateliers in a dramatic visual display that presents a glimpse into this secret world, including sketches, toiles, and the intricate process of embroidery, the museum says. "The atelier represents the heart of the house where seamstresses work with Dior’s creative directors to collaboratively bring couture to life."