Dior’s expansive history of couture, beauty, pop culture, and art, is now laid out in room after room of show stopping fashion at the Brooklyn Museum. The new exhibition, titled Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams features hundreds of bar jackets, tea-length skirts, fantastical gowns, accessories, sketches, and photographs that span Dior’s 75-plus years as a top maison. And on Wednesday, September 8—just as New York Fashion Week kicked into high gear—the house celebrated opening day with a star-studded party.
Lorde (who wore a black Dior ball gown and stiletto pumps, her hair pulled tightly back into a chignon) was in attendance; as was Kacey Musgraves, wearing head-to-toe leopard print; and Brittany O’Grady of White Lotus fame. (The latter swept Lorde up in a huge hug, clearly very happy to see the singer). Also in the mix was Dior women’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri, who flew in from Paris specifically for the event. As she wandered the Beaux-Arts Court on the third floor, the designer shared a bit about the process of working with the Brooklyn Museum curators to choose the looks featured at the show.
“I love that, inside the exhibition, you can see all the different designers—not only Mr. Dior,” she said. And indeed, many of the highlights of Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams have very little to do with Christian Dior himself.
Although even Chiuri acknowledges the house founder is “an awesome designer,” who set the standard for French influence on global fashion, the cadre of designers who followed him have made their mark, too. The show, working in chronological order of employment, features pieces from former heads of house including Yves Saint Laurent, who worked alongside Christian Dior for two years; Gianfranco Ferré and his signature dramatic puffed sleeves on silk gowns; Raf Simons, whose section was small but still breathtaking; and, of course, John Galliano (his creations, we noted, prompted the most iPhone photos.)
The exhibition runs in a semi-circle, showing highlights from Chiuri’s current era (replete with looks from her very first couture show at Dior, and the famed “We Should All Be Feminists” t-shirt,) and a particularly satisfying color-coded wall of ephemera: Rihanna’s sunglasses, red nail polish and lipstick, miniatures from Dior’s 1945 Théâtre de la Mode.
The show culminates in “The Garden”—a crescendo where highlights from Dior’s runway through the years play on a loop projected onto the wall. Mannequins wearing sparkling gowns line the walls, and nature sounds play softly into the dreamy space.
For all its visual grandeur and resplendency, Chiuri’s favorite part of the exhibition is located in one teeny corner of the designer timeline zone. Marc Bohan’s section, filled with color-blocked suits and skirts from his 30-year career at the house, is a must-see, she said. “He was one of the most important designers [at the house],” Chiuri added. “I think, in some way, he made the most modern women in the history of Dior.”