When it comes to fashion exhibitions, living in Scotland often leaves me feeling a little out of the loop. Each year I devour the news and images of each Met Gala and following exhibition, often ordering the accompanying books so I feel like I’ve managed to enjoy at least a sliver of what’s on offer, and usually London’s fabulous V&A exhibition is the closest thing I can get to the hallowed halls of Fifth Avenue.
When they announced the Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition, I couldn’t resist booking a trip down to see it. Dior has long been a favourite designer of mine – I grew up idolising the dreamy creations of John Galliano, and his couture collections plastered my walls at school.
Obviously, he left the house in disgrace, but I can’t help adoring his whimsical gowns which fall somewhere between dreams and costumes. Bold, brash and full of colour, seeing them in person was an absolute thrill, but it wasn’t the only highlight of the exhibition – which kicked off with the original New Look Bar Suit from 1947.
The exhibition followed the house’s fashion pretty much chronologically, and some of the first rooms, filled with coats and jackets from the 50s and 60s were absolute favourites. Displayed in stunning neon-lit black boxes, the focus was entirely on the clothes, and the sleek lines echoed those in the clothes.
Getting to see iconic gowns like Princess Margaret’s 1951 gown was a real treat. I just adore seeing pieces like this in the flesh, so getting to examine every inch of it was incredible. I just adored the attention to detail – like the star motif in the beading which you can still see in bags and accessories today.
Rooms like the one inspired by Versaille and the wardrobe of Marie Antoinette were an absolute dream to linger in. Dresses from the original Dior archive mixed with those by Galliano and Chiuri. I’m not going to lie – I spent an inordinate amount of time in the room, examining each ruffle and pleat in minute detail.
In addition to the influence of the court of Louis XVI, the global influence on Dior was examined. From Ancient Egypt to the plains of Latin America – all have a place here. Colours are vibrant and jewel-like, worn with abandon by mannequins.
Photos don’t do justice to the room inspired by flowers and blossoms. Again, original Dior designs sat side by side with more modern creations, and I absolutely adored seeing the same motifs appear on dresses decades apart, and the hand-crafted quality of many of the original Diors was absolutely darling.With blossoms cascading from the ceiling, this was the ultimate in whimsy.
The later galleries were a celebration of all things glamour and celebrity. With dresses worn by Natalie Portman, Charlize Theron and Jennifer Lawrence, lights and music changed to create theatrics worthy of the Oscars themselves. It was glorious to linger in, letting the crowds whizz past as I enjoy the sheer beauty of my surroundings.
It is important to note how popular the exhibition has been. When we visited it was verging on uncomfortably full, with a slow-moving wave of visitors methodically pausing at the alter of each gown. Honestly though, it was worth any hustle and bustle to enjoy, and I’m already planning a return trip. The exhibition runs until September 1st, and tickets are now completely sold out – but there is still a couple of ways to get in! Extra tickets will be released on the 15th July, whilst very limited tickets are available to purchase daily at 10am from the Grand Entrance on a first-come, first-served basis; these tickets are for times throughout the day on that day only. If you don’t fancy trying your luck, you can also do what we opted for, and just buy a V&A membership. They’re £79 per person a year, and you can get in to any exhibition without booking or paying additional fees. You can also enjoy a discount at the gift shop, and have access to exclusive events. Not only this, but you’re also supporting one of the world’s finest museums, and really, who wouldn’t want to do that?!