Dior-Designer of Dreams at Arts Décoratifs

Image in Musée Arts décoratifs entry for Christian Dior Couturier du rêve until January 7, 2018The Musée des Arts Décoratifs celebrates the 70th anniversary of the creation of the House of Dior until January 7, 2018 in a lavish and comprehensive exhibition, Christian Dior, Designer of Dreams (Couturier du Rêve). Whether or not you are a fashionista, if you love history, fashion (retro and future), fabric, intricate beading, art, interiors, photography, etc. this is a rich exhibit that I can recommend. The Dior Héritage collection and works of art are on loan from museums in France, United States and England. Most of the works featured in exhibit are from the Dior Héritage collection and the first time they are shown in Paris.

A few tips of advice about the exhibit
It is BIG (popular and the dresses alone number 300)! The Dior exhibit is split in two’s: on two floors in two wings. Choose your wing, go early, consider a guided tour with the museum (information follows) and allow time for the gift shop, which offers two lightweight, reasonably priced souvenir books available in English. The Arts et décoratifs current exhibit website page has LOTS of valuable background and information. If possible, take a look before you visit.

Plan your viewing time carefully
Using a pass I entered the museum about 4:30 pm and a guard was telling someone in line, the wait was one hour. If you have a pass or have purchased a ticket, show it to door security to avoid the line. By 5:45 they were shuffling everyone through the second part of the exhibit meaning we missed the casual walk through afforded in the first part. The museum closes at 6 pm (open until 9 pm Thursdays for temporary exhibits).

Decide which wing to do first
The exhibit begins to the left of the entry. I had no idea there were two sections and luckily when I finished, I heard the guide say seven words, “the exhibit continues, go down the stairs….”. Following a couple, I ended up in the cellar when in fact he meant take the stairs and cross over into the nave. The exhibit continues in the opposite wing on two floors. Look for the “Bar” suit at the entrance. Read about the exhibit and see additional photos  (it is pdf download). It will be like a virtual visit for you.

Image of the Bar suit, New Look, at the beginning of the second part of the Dior exhibit

Bar suit, New Look, at the beginning of the second part of the Dior exhibit

My opinion
I would have appreciated the drawings and swatches of color fabrics more in the first part wing if I had experienced the second part of the exhibit first. I was only looking for Christian Dior creations in the first part and did not immediately appreciate his successors’ works. I needed more time in the nave section fronted by the iconic New Look “Bar” suit which opens the chronological second portion from 1947-2017. If I were not already scheduled for a guided visit in October, the exhibit deserves another walk through.

How the exhibit is divided up
The first part (to the left of the entry) begins with his childhood in Granville, his discovery of the avant-garde art world, Dior’s art gallery from 1928 to 1934, his inspirations as an Art Nouveau collector, decorator and garden enthusiast. Dior trains as a fashion illustrator and eventually enters into the haute couture world influenced his artist roots. The themes for the exhibition rooms are: Presentation, Essence of Couture, Christian Dior, his musée imaginaire; Christian Dior’s apartment, The Dior Gardens, Artistic Affinities, Trianon, The Dior Ball, Around the World in Dior, Stars in Dior, 30 Avenue Montaigne.

The second part (in the nave) is a chronological display spanning the 70 years from 1947 to 2017. In this portion I was able to see why the succeeding designers: Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and, most recently, Maria Grazia Chiuri were chosen to design for Dior. Either rationally or using fantasy they carried on the Dior original architecture and techniques (in my opinion).

Exhibition Books in English
The catalogue is available in English, but on this rare occasion, two smaller books area available from Connaissance des Arts: The Musée Christian Dior Granville (12 euros) and from the exhibition “Christian Dior Designer of Dreams” (9,50 euros).

Guided visit, workshops, lectures, tickets
For a time-efficient visit, the educational and cultural department of the museum organizes
*Museum tours for adults, groups and individuals reservations +33 01 44 55 59 26
*Thematic workshop-tours and guided tours related to an exhibition for 4 to 18 year-olds reservations +33 01 44 55 59 25
*Lectures and panel discussions reservations +33 01 44 55 59 75

Three types of tickets are available on line. You will be sent a confirmation email and you can use your smartphone to present your ticket if you do not have the paper version. Dates are available for the guided visit (scroll to “Activities” on the exhibition home page).

The press release describes the exhibition best:
“The selection of over 300 haute couture gowns designed between 1947 and the present day has a unifying thread of emotions, life stories, affinities, inspirations, creations and legacies. Alongside the dresses is the most wide-ranging display to date of atelier toiles and fashion photographs, as well as hundreds of documents, including illustrations, sketches, documentary photographs, letters, notes and advertising documents, and fashion accessories, including hats, jewelry, bags, shoes and perfume bottles.

Reflecting the fact that Christian Dior was also a knowledgeable art lover who adored museums, designs from over 70 years interact with a selection of paintings, furniture and objects of art. These works highlight and develop Christian Dior’s outlook by exploring the ties he forged between couture and all forms of art, defining the House of Dior’s enduring influence.

The two curators, Florence Müller and Olivier Gabet, convey their mess age with a chronological and themed exhibition design that inhabits and brings together the museum’s fashion areas and the nave for the first time, a space of almost 3,000 square meters.”

Musée des Arts décoratifs  #ChristianDior_AD 
107-111, rue de Rivoli 75001 Paris
Open: Tuesdays to Sundays from 11 am to 6 pm
Thursdays open until 9 pm on (Temporary Exhibitions only).
Closed on Mondays.