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Galliano, Simons and Chiuri

TRAVEL HERE: DIOR’S LATER CREATIVE DIRECTORS

“Better to have no taste at all than to be limited by good or bad taste.”  That’s what the exhibition guide claims John Galliano rebutted when some criticized his outrageousness.  I can’t say I agree with him.  I kept looking for a good excuse for his (ahem) designs.  I’m still looking, but let’s jump in, shall we!

Outrageous Galliano

Bill was so turned off by the later Creative Directors that he didn’t take a single photo, but the central gallery, which he did photograph is full of designs by all of them.  Any of the dresses in the above picture that you think looks like a costume, are probably Galliano designs.   Somehow, Galliano ruled Dior for fourteen outrageous years.

Galliano wasn’t thinking of ladies taking tea with the queen or attending a ball when he was designing.  I think he was only thinking of his own fame.  He mixed odd materials like raffia, straw, woven horsehair, metal and such with velvet, crepe de chine and taffeta.  He used wooden joined hands for hats.  One year his inspiration was drawn from Masai tribesmen and he didn’t wander too far out of the jungle.

He was being an artist, certainly, but not really designing dresses a woman would be interested in wearing to an important occasion.  In fact, I’d probably be willing to pay you something not to have to wear one of his creations – unless it was Halloween.  Then they’d be perfect.

Raf Simons

While I certainly wouldn’t pay the fantastic prices you’d have to pay to wear a dress designed by Mr. Simons, I also wouldn’t pay you not to have to show up in public with his stuff on. The exhibition guide calls him a shape shifter and many of his designs do shift the shape of the wearers away from anything that looks like a human woman.  At least they don’t look like Halloween costumes.  Instead they look like something from Star Trek or Star Wars.  He experimented a lot with the technology of fabric, weaving, dyes and the mechanics of clothing.  To me, that’s more interesting than just being outright weird, like Galliano.

His time at Dior followed directly after the reign of Galliano, who left “amid controversy.”  I bet that’s being very tactful about it.  I imagine Mr. Simons proved to be a sort of buffer between the ridiculous and the sublime.  His time at the house only lasted three years, but at least there was still house for him to leave and I’m not sure there would have been if Galliano had stayed.

The Breaking of the Glass Ceiling

Finally, in 2016, a woman came to the helm of Dior – Maria Grazia Chiuri.  About time, I’d say, but her description of a Dior woman is a little confusing to me – “desirable, fragile, but sure of herself, with real inner strength.”  Is it possible to be all those things at the same time?  Her clothes seem to borrow a little from the outrageousness of Galliano – raffia, horsehair and metal, for instance – but they are not so cartoonish.  Still not my style mind you (or my price range), but interesting.

To a certain extent she suffered from being at the end of the line.  I was reeling from Galliano and still trying to understand Simons when I wandered over to her era.  Her clothes are modern to be sure and I’m not all that modern.  Perhaps when I return to the exhibit I’ll have more mental energy to process her designs.

And that finishes my review of Dior’s Creative directors.  The exhibit is fabulous.  While I wouldn’t wear Galliano’s clothes, they must be seen to be believed.  When you see all of the dresses, but in context of time, even the worst ones begin to make a little sense, but even if they didn’t, the gorgeous stuff is worth a visit.  Come back next week and see what I get up to.

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