In Memory of a Master
“In order to satisfy my love of architecture and clear cut design, I wanted my dresses to be constructed, to be moulded to the contours of the female body, stylising its curves.”
Article by Donna McCulloch
Paris is always a good idea…Indeed it is, but the city is never more beautiful than in the autumn. And if that weren’t reason enough to go, the lure of the Dior exhibition for a fashion obsessive like me, proved too hard to ignore. For those of us who live fashion – and even for those who don’t – the fashion exhibition has become a “thing”; McQueen’s Savage Beauty at the V&A in 2015 was a phenomenal success, not least for those of us who went three, yes three times… also at the V&A the Balenciaga (himself a contemporary of Dior) exhibition is going down a storm and running until February 2018, but I digress…
To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the House of Dior, Christian Dior, Couturier du Reve is at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs from now until the 7th January 2018. Curated by Olivier Gabet, Director of The Arts Decoratif Museum and Florence Muller from Denver Art Museum you are invited on a “voyage of discovery.”
The entire museum is devoted to the designer’s work, it is suitably lavish and a fitting tribute to the man who put post-war Paris back on the map as the fashion – and especially couture – capital of the world. It offers a retrospective of his career as well as referencing the work of the six subsequent designers who have worked at the Fashion house; Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferre, John Galliano (whose departure in 2011 was not mentioned), Raf Simons and the most recent, Maria Grazia Chiuri.
The exhibition follows a linear, chronological path, from the brand’s inception to the present day. You will be presented with 300 haute couture pieces, some of these behind glass, others not. For me, the highlight of the exhibition was the “Colourama” display featuring dresses, shoes, bags and perfume bottles all colour co-ordinated from the palest hues to the most citrus, this may be due to that I, unusually for a fashion industry insider, don’t live in black and adore all things colour.
However, for the majority of visitors to this exhibition, not all of whom are fashion die hards like me, the Dior Ballroom in the final gallery is the piece de resistance; in this gallery, you can get up close and personal with gowns worn by stars as illustrious as Elizabeth Taylor, a personal style icon of mine.
The accompanying quotes on written on the walls by the man himself add a sense of character to exhibition giving us an insight into the mind of the “Designer of Dreams.” Put simply, at €11 this exhibition is not only a bargain, it is a beautiful way to while away an afternoon in Paris.
Some tips: I would advise not to go at the weekend (unless you’re prepared to queue) Buy your ticket on advance (link below) as the ticketed queue has significantly fewer people but if you insist on going at the weekend, as did I, go between 1-2pm as the whole of Paris seemed to be having leur dèjeuner so the queues were considerably less… Also don’t come straight off the Eurostar with your suitcase and head straight to Rue de Rivoli with said suitcase, as you will be refused entry…
On that note, taking the Eurostar was/ is a total no brainer for me as I needed to be in central Paris anyway, why would I fly to Orly or CDG? The generous luggage allowance and lead in fares from as little as £58 make it the obvious choice. I am London based, so a tube ride to St Pancras was considerably less onerous than a cab or train to Heathrow or Gatwick. I had a most pleasurable journey sous la Manche in Business Premier, which, for the small increase in price, is worth every penny; a ten minute check in for the perpetually late amongst us? Check. A hot breakfast brought to your table? Check? Copious amounts of coffee served at regular intervals? Check. I could go on but I think I’ve made my point.
I stayed at The Hoxton, because, it is central, relaxed and completely unpretentious. Staff are friendly, helpful and genuinely seem to want to you enjoy your stay. It’s a little gem of a hotel and was perfect for my whirlwind 36 hours in Paris, I stayed in the cosy room and the clue is in the name, cosy was just the ticket.
Enquiries: Musée des Arts Décoratifs, 107 Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France / www.dior.com/couture/en_gb/the-house-of-dior/exhibitions/christian-dior-couturier-du-reve
Donna travelled with www.eurostar.com/uk-en
The Hoxton Paris 30-32 Rue du Sentier, 75002 Paris, France / +33 1 85 65 75 00 / https://thehoxton.com/paris/paris/hotels