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From Paris to the World – Dallas

The highly anticipated House of Dior exhibit, Dior: From Paris to the World, is opening at the Dallas Museum of Art this Sunday.

The exhibition profiles both Christian Dior himself and the fashion house’s subsequent artistic directors, Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri.

Featuring almost 200 haute couture dresses, as well as accessories, photographs, original sketches, runway videos and other archival material, this exhibit is one of the most carefully crafted and beautiful displays that the Dallas Muesum of Art has ever seen.

A clear sequential journey is defined by a prescribed route. After entering through the façade of the Dior Paris atelier, visitors are taken through a polycarbonate tunnel that leads to the first set of rooms before the barrel vaulted runway is revealed. This sequence is followed by three additional galleries that explore themes that served as an inspiration to the House of Dior, alongside photographs and accessories. The exhibition will be on view at the Dallas Museum of Art from the 19th of May to the 1st of September 2019.

The preview of the exhibit is pretty magnificent. As you enter, you’re surrounded by outfits from “The New Look,” 18 black and white looks with tiny waists and accentuated hips. The collection’s two main lines, the Corolle and the En 8, set the stage for fashion in the 1950s.

Christian Dior was just 21 years old when he was named the head of the house. While in this position for 10 years, Dior created the “New Look” as it was dubbed by press for its revolutionary reconstruction of the female figure as a succession of curves. Rather than the boxy, masculine silhouettes common during wartime. On display, there are 39 total looks by Christian Dior from 1947 to 1957.

Next up is the “Office of Dreams,” a collection of 22 white toiles, or mock-ups in plain cotton muslin. Before every collection, Dior drew hundreds of sketches, which were then transformed into toiles and shown to Dior and his core team. Once approved, the toile became a pattern for a prototype.

Then you can roam around and view the different looks from various decades, organized by designer. Following Dior’s decade as Head of the House were designers Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri. There are eight looks on display for each designer. Presently, Maria Grazia Chiuri is the first woman to head the House of Dior. She’s established herself as an activist designer. Her 2017 debut consisted of a collection of modern, fairytale designs. She’s known for making dresses that can be worn with sneakers.

While these displays are impressive, just wait until you go through the hallway and step into the “From Paris to the World” hall. It’s filled with 57 designs, propped up high, allowing you to look up in awe as you approach the back wall, which is also gasp-worthy. Thirteen dresses are highlighted in their own partitions, reaching high up to the ceiling.

Dallas Museum of Art’s 40-foot-high Barrel Vault gives this display maximum impact. OMA New York partner Shohei Shigematsu, who also designed the Denver show, uses the Barrel Vault to make the exhibit even more striking.

By then, visitors might think that this had been the ‘big ending’, but there is more. The “Ladies in Dior” room highlights how women have adopted the Dior style over the years. From Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe to Rihanna and Lady Gaga, Dior’s celebrity staying power is highlighted.

The “Dallas and Beyond” segment covers Dior’s Dallas connections from the first time that he came to the city in 1947 to accept the Neiman Marcus Award. Here, Christian Dior’s special connection with legendary Neiman Marcus president Stanley Marcus, who set up the designer’s first visit to the store just months after his New York collection debuted, is highlighted. It conveys that this isn’t just an exhibition in a Dallas museum; Dior’s history with Dallas is given its due.

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