‘Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams’ at the V&A

I first heard that this exhibition was coming to the V&A in early 2018, and was excited to find out that it would coincide with my London Marathon trip. As soon as the tickets became available in the autumn, I booked a slot the day after the race, banking on the fact that the pretty outfits would distract me from having to stand on marathon-tired legs for a couple of hours!

Dior is my favourite fashion house, but I didn’t actually know much about the life of Christian Dior himself, so the initial part of the exhibition, which focused on his early years and his first forays into the fashion industry, was really interesting. The late ’40s and early ’50s fashions shown were beautiful (and probably totally at odds with postwar austerity/rationing for most European women, but…!).

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibit
An example of the New Look. Not sure about the wicker hat, but the shape of the outfit is lovely!

There followed an equally interesting section about Princess Margaret’s love of Dior clothes and how it fitted in with her already-colourful life as a young royal. They had the dress that Dior designed for her 21st birthday portrait on display.

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibit
Princess Margaret’s 21st birthday dress from 1951. Kinda beats the cheap scuzzy mid-’00s gothwear I wore for my 21st in 2006 hands-down! Don’t think it would have held up to a night of booze-sticky sofas in the Tron pub though.

Later in the exhibition, there was a large room dedicated to the history of the Dior house and its different creative directors throughout the years. I appreciated the ’80s era designs best, of course…

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibit
Dior outfits of the ’80s! Interestingly, these are all from the first collection of Gianfranco Ferré as creative director in 1989. Marc Bohan was creative director for the majority of the ’80s, but because he’d held the post since 1960, his section of the exhibition focused on his ’60s designs.

…but the most colourful and fun dresses on display were those of John Galliano, who was creative director during the ’00s. I’m not normally a fan of ’00s fashion (largely due to too many cringey memories of wearing it), but I really liked these.

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibit
Stunning colours! Not really dresses for real-life wear though.

I bought the exhibition book afterwards, so I’m looking forward to curling up with it at some point and looking at some pictures that are a bit better than these ones off my phone camera!

I was also excited to see that the V&A have another fashion exhibition on at the moment – one about Mary Quant. My post-marathon legs couldn’t have coped with another hour or two of standing, though, so that’ll be one for next time I’m in London – it’s on till February 2020 so there’s plenty of time.

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