TRAVEL HERE: DIRECTORS OF THE HOUSE OF DIOR
When Yves Saint Laurent took up the reins of Dior from Dior, management was concerned. After all, YSL was only in his early twenties. Can you blame them? At first, everything was OK.
Trapeze to Trouble
The black dress and the floral print dress on the left were parts of Saint Laurent’s first collection on his own, called Trapeze. The exhibition guide talks about “trapezoidal” silhouettes and the “free spirit of the Sixties”, even though it was only 1958. It was a success, but but the success was short lived. In 1960 Saint Laurent called his collection “Beatnik.” Talk about the Sixties, leather jackets with mink trim! One short velvet evening dress featured bobble fringe trim. Gorgeous had almost left the building, but I think this black number with the swag of pearls might be worth its weight in silk crepe.
Yves was ushered out the door, but one wonders if the success of his own fashion house made the management of Dior regret running him off. When Yves left, they promoted Marc Bohan out of the London branch. His classical training returned the house and its clientele back to the safety of traditional haute couture without resorting to boredom. He borrowed from Russian tzars and the traditional Chinese cheongsam, keeping everyone happy for close to thirty years. Some of it is a little too Eighties for me, but I’d wear others.
Haute couture was being replaced by ready-to-wear around the world. Many of the French fashion houses had disappeared and others sold out to mass marketing. Dior remained. Enter an Italian, Gianfranco Ferre’. After Bohan’s freewheeling style references, structured suits and wafting evening gowns, Ferre’ took the house back to classicism. The exhibition guide gives him credit for everything from Baroque architecture to Impressionists, even Cubists and Surrealism.
To my untrained eye, he seemed to embody both the best of Dior himself and his successor, Saint Laurent. The simple column of the empire-waisted dress a la Josephine, which was named Palladio, spoke to me, but I think my bestie liked Glory, the black velvet number encrusted in gold, even better.
One thing I noticed about the Ferre’ dresses is that a goodly number of them had a lot of stuff on them. Like the stripped gown on the front row. I loved most of it, but then the bodice looked like someone’s granddaughter had come to work one day and glued a little of everything onto it. Same thing with the polka dot dress in the back. Just too much stuff.
And speaking of too much. How about that gray suit with puff sleeves and the really big bow. Sure, it’s too much but I love it anyway. I would hang it in my closet next to Dior’s houndstooth suit with the more conservative black bow.
Mr. Ferre’s designs finish out the first gallery of Creative Directors. Come back next week and we’ll look at three of the later directors. Meanwhile, enjoy the fashions.