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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.

ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Fashion, Museums, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL

From Christian to Yves and Friends

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.

Marc Bohan

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.

 Gianfranco Ferre’ 

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.

 

ART, Attractions, Decorative Arts, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Fashion, Museums, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL

A Frenzy of Fashion

TRAVEL HERE: SO MUCH DIOR, SO LITTLE TIME

Now that we’ve browsed through the entire Dior exhibit together, let’s go back and take a closer look at some of what is called fashion.  I say that because to me, clothes should be designed to wear.  They should look good and make me look good when I wear them.  I can’t say that all the fashions in this exhibit would compliment the wearer.

Fashion and the Decorative Arts

I’ve said it before, the Decorative Arts are my favorite part of any museum.  Paintings and sculpture are nice, but what I love most are practical items made sublime by their decoration.  A Meissen vase can completely captivate me.  My favorite museum ever was the Silver Collection at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna.  Such a bland name for such an extraordinary place.

Many dresses in the Dior exhibition are certainly sublime.  Would that my closet had such delights!  Take the black and white number with the coolie-style straw hat above.  Anybody with about an ounce of clothes sense would tell you it’s not in vogue.  Fully pleated wool skirts and jackets with peplums are just not the thing.  I don’t care.  I’d wear that anytime.  Not to a baseball game, of course, but give me an excuse to dress up and I’d put that number on.  And in vogue or not, ooohs and aaahs would follow me wherever I went.  The black taffeta, off-the-shoulder number next to it is pretty wonderful also.

However, I didn’t feel that way about everything I saw.  As time marched on the dresses were less decorative and more arty.  The show is partly chronological, but then it explodes into a kaleidoscope of eras.  Dresses designed to grace the form of post-WWII damselles stand next to fashions better suiting an ancient Egyptian priestess or a Zulu warrior princess.  Some of the outfits didn’t look like they would grace anyone or anything.  When I put on an outfit, I don’t want people to say, “My, that’s an interesting outfit.”  I want them to say, “Wow, you look great!”

To see the most egregious examples of these interesting outfits, you’ll have to go to the exhibition yourself.  The photos I’m using in these posts were taken by Bill during my first visit.  He’s as drawn to gorgeous as I am, so he didn’t waste his focus on interesting, much.  During my second visit I was so busy trying to match the various dresses to their description in the exhibition guide  that I failed to get a single picture.

Dior at the DMA
Designs by Christian Dior Himself

In the chronological part of the show, the focus is on the various directors of the House of Dior.  First, of course was Christian Dior, himself.  The suit on the far right with the big black bow?  I want it so bad I can taste it.  It’s name is Adventure.

I didn’t love everything he did as well as that one piece, but it’s probably safe to say I love everything he designed better than anything anyone else did.  For instance, the black double breasted belted jacket next to MY ensemble is entirely too bulky for my frame.  I’d look like someone’s living room drapes which have decided to take a walk.

Bill only took one more picture in this section of the exhibit, a lovely gala gown from 1950 called Oceanie with an ‘ over the e.  The amaranth red tulle dress is embroidered with sequins and beads, so I have no idea what that has to do with the ocean.

In fact, many of the names assigned to the ensembles had little to do with the ensemble it is assigned to.  Some of the directors labeled everything as a “Look” and assigned it a number. I found that as disappointing as a red dress with a blue name.

There’s more to the exhibit, of course, but let’s put Mr. Saint Laurent off until next week.

 

 

ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Fashion, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL

More Dior at the DMA

TRAVEL HERE: MORE DIOR THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE

Just when I thought Dior From Paris to the World was the best fashion exhibit the DMA had ever had, I found out it wasn’t even over yet.  Certainly the gallery with all the celebrity gowns had to be the climax and end of the exhibit, but no, there was more gorgeous to enjoy!  Come along and I’ll share the rest of the goodies.

Pretty in Pink

My bestie teases me about my OCD tendencies when we are visiting exhibitions, bazaars and galleries.  I’m very systematic about it, because I don’t want to miss anything.  As alluring as this confection of evening wear will be as you exit the big central gallery with the celebrity dresses, I recommend detouring to the left as soon as you enter this gallery.  Two treats wait for you there.  One is called “Lengendary Photographs” and for my husband the photographer, it was one of his favorite parts of the entire exhibit.  For me, it was the area called “Total Looks” that deserved all the attention.

Pictures are not allowed in this gallery, so you will have to use your imagination, but there is a semicircle of vignettes displayed.  Each vignette is based on a color and is decked out with everything imaginable in that color.  You could easily lose yourself for an hour trying to comprehend the items in each vignette.  There is no one season or look that is focused on, so the timeless nature of Dior’s designs and their versatility is well-demonstrated.  Perfume bottle is juxtaposed with a pillbox hat sporting an outrageous hat pin.  Shoes, jewelry, handbags, dresses, capes – literally, you name it, is served up in delicious coordinating hues.  It’s truly mind-boggling!

Eventually you will have to shake off your obsession with “Total Looks”  and see the next gallery.  There’s a section here called “Dallas and Beyond” which highlights memorabilia from Dior’s visits to Dallas and elsewhere.  If you have room in your brain to take in more, then this is a good place to soak up some more information about the designer himself.  I confess, I’ve merely glazed over it so far.  I hope to go back soon and have another stab at details like this.  All the galleries have displays full of idea books, videos of fashion shows, swatches of material and other items I really want to know more about, but the brain can only absorb so much at any one time.

Finally, with a guilt-free conscious you can gaze on “Splendors of the 18th Century.”  According to the Exhibition Guide, Christian Dior wanted to bring flamboyance back to Paris after the dark days of World War II.  His fashion house was decked out in all the glory of Versailles and the pink confection at the beginning of this post is the DMA’s attempt to capture that.  It was also a chance to show off one of the DMA’s most gorgeous paintings – The Abduction of Europa by Jean Baptiste Marie Pierre.

The Final Morsel

You’re almost through, as if anyone actually wanted to be.  Beside the “Splendors” display is the entry to “Field of Flowers.”  This gallery is devoted to all looks floral – a floral dress for every occasion.  Samples from all eras of the fashion house are displayed together.  Some you will love.  Others you will wonder why they bothered.  I was particularly impressed with some of the handiwork.  When you realized that every bead and ruffle is applied by hand, some of the dresses will blow you away.

I’m planning to revisit the exhibit as often as I can between now and September 1st.  So far, hunger is what eventually dragged me out of the exhibit.  Maybe next time I’ll eat BEFORE I go, rather than take a turn at the exhibit first.  In fact, if you’re panning your visit, eat first.  You’ll need your nourishment.

It’s taken three posts just to get you from the entry to the final gallery.  To exit you’ll have to make another dash through the fashion show themed hall ways.  Then you’ll find yourself on the other side of the small entry area with its red lights and samples of Dior’s Revolutionary new look.  If you come back next week, we’ll talk about some of my favorite and not so favorite pieces in the exhibit.

 

 

ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Fashion, Museums, TRAVEL

The DMA’s Divine Date with Dior

Dior at Dallas
Flights of Near Fantasy

TRAVEL HERE: A CELEBRATION OF FASHION AS ART

On Saturday the 18th, Dior: From Dallas to the World had not even opened to the public yet and I was back for my second helping.  It’s just that delicious.  You don’t even have to like fashion or art to appreciate this exhibition.  What do you like? Architecture, marketing, celebrity sightings, engineering, manufacturing?  Think I’m kidding?  Come take a look!

Thrilled Clear Down to My Socks 

Modern art is all fine and good for those of you who like it, but I was just about fed up with the overabundance of it at my museum.  Modern, pop, contemporary, avant garde and everything in between had become a steady diet at the DMA.  That’s OK, with the dawning of 2019, I take it all back.  I love the DMA again!

With this latest exhibition, I’ll be running down there every time I can dream up a reason to go – so Dallas friends, please call me and let’s make a date!  If you go with me, I can get you in for free.  Last week I told you about the great party the DMA threw to celebrate the opening of the exhibition.  Today let’s talk about the “over 100 haute couture dresses, as well as accessories , photographs, original sketches, runway videos, and other archival material,” promised in my invitation to the Opening Celebration.

Dior at the DMA
Awestruck Already!

All That and More

On my second visit, the weather promised rain, but that wasn’t scaring away the excited crowd which waited outside the DMA.  We arrived a few moments before opening and I was surprised to see so many people.  I hadn’t thought of ordering my free tickets to see Dior on that particular day, because it was still members only, but I should have.  At 11, the earliest we could get in was noon.

After a detour through the Berthe Morisot exhibition to kill an hour (unfortunately that exhibition ended on the 26th, for those of you who missed it) we took our tickets to the line for Dior.  The first peek at the dresses took my breath away, both times I saw it – and I have a sneaky suspicion it will continue to delight.  You thread your way into a relatively small hallway and on both sides of you, double-decked at eye level and above, are mannequins in gorgeous black Dior dresses against a red-lighted stage.

While no one explained the intent of the exhibition’s design, to me, the exhibition space seems reminiscent of the temporary nature of a tent set up for a fashion show – especially the behind the scenes part, where the designers and models would be scurrying about.  Scaffolding can be seen through the white plastic walls and seemingly hand drawn arrows point the way to go.

Once you’ve navigated the arrows in the hallways, you’ll find an area devoted to the nuts and bolts of the design business.  Twenty toiles, muslin mock-ups of drawings created by the designers, fill a wall.  Most of them I would be happy to wear, as is, but a few do reveal the temporary nature of the garment.   On the parallel wall, videos show the actual process of packaging perfumes, building hand bags and other wonders of manufacturing these dreams for sale.  Display cases show swatches of hand-beaded cloth, sketches with fabrics attached and other bits associated with the process of designing haute couture.

Dior at the DMA
Designs by Christian Dior Himself

Though other galleries have more eye-popping displays, the gallery to the left of the toiles has my favorite dresses.  The houndstooth number with the big bow would be the one I would want to take home with me.  It’s called Adventure and was from the 1948 Envol line, but the look is timeless.  In the same area are dresses designed by directors Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan and Gianfranco Ferre.

To the right of the toiles is a gallery devoted to later directors, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri.  I can easily say their designs are stunning, but they depart from the gorgeous craft of Dior himself and wander into that fashion world where models wear dresses I can’t imagine seeing walk down the street.

You must follow a few more arrows to see the grandest gallery in the exhibition, called From Paris to the World.  It shows dresses, on two tiers on both sides of the room, which have been influenced by various places around the world.  Saris, kimonos and other costume-like gowns will awe and amaze you.  Some I loved.  Others just made me giggle.  The photo at the beginning of this post, of the dresses in arched compartments, is where those who love celebrity watching will gather.  These dresses were worn by Lady Gaga, Josephine Baker and Marilyn Monroe, to name a few.

You’re not through with the exhibition yet, but I have run out of words for today.  There are still treats to enjoy.  Come back next week and I’ll take you on a quick stroll through the rest of the exhibit.  Then the following week, I’ll go back to the beginning and share more details of the exhibit.