Victoria & Albert Museum. London 2nd February – 14th July
Words: Francesca Fearon
In 1947, Christian Dior changed the face of fashion by creating the New Look, a flattering female silhouette that defined fashion for the 1950s and endures as an influence on designers today. However, who knew that the French couturier was an anglophile who wore Savile Row suits, loved the monarchy, English politeness and even had a fondness for British post-war cooking.
Adapted from the sell-out exhibition held in Paris last year, this comprehensive retrospective has a distinctly British flavour. The V&A has added fresh elements from its own archives that explore the designer’s fascination with British culture. He held fashion shows at the Savoy and Blenheim Palace and dressed notable British clients such as the ballerina Margot Fonteyn and the author Nancy Mitford. A highlight will be the Christian Dior dress worn by Princess Margaret to her 21st birthday party, seen together with her portrait by Cecil Beaton.
The exhibition, supported by Swarovski, looks at Dior’s life (he died in 1957) and at the inspiration and craftsmanship of the House over 70+ years. It features designs by the six subsequent artistic directors including Yves Saint Laurent (who succeeded Dior), John Galliano and Maria Grazia Chiuri and offers a look inside the ateliers where the magic is performed.