Friday, December 14, 2018

DAY 39: Dior--Worth's Natural Heir

Christian Dior by Gianfranco Ferre, Rouge Amoreuse, Fall 1992

We're going to pause in our consideration of the Gilded Age today to examine the impact of Jennie's favorite couturier, the House of Worth--on its natural heir, the House of Dior.

We're lucky here in Denver, between now and March 2019, to host the American debut of Dior: From Paris to the World, a retrospective of Christian Dior's legacy in fashion design. I viewed the installation today. 

All I kept thinking?
Jennie could, and would kill to, wear any of these. (When you've so internalized your character as to view the world through the lens of her closet, you have problems we won't discuss right now.)

Christian Dior by Gianfranco Ferre, Venise, Venise, Fall 1989

The devil is in the Dior details: the designer understood and appreciated the extraordinarily gifted Parisian artisan class cultivated for centuries, but particularly by Charles Frederick Worth--meticulous embroiderers, seamstresses, pattern-cutters, jewelers, lace-makers, toile designers, and weavers. Obsessed with the 18th century, Dior designed in the 20th a hybrid style that captured a pre-war elegance in a modern frame.

Worth-like embroidery of silver metallic thread, paste gemstones, beads and
sequins, on silver silk-satin: Christian Dior Palmyre, 1952

Dior is famous, of course, for introducing the New Look in '47, which brought a touch of glamour and a reminder of prewar elegance to ravaged Europe. But his sensibilities are throwbacks to far earlier eras of refinement, opulence, and tailoring for the sake of art.

ne of the most fascinating installations in the current show is entitled "The Office of Dreams," an exhibit of the toiles--or muslin models--conceived, patterned, cut and sewn as mockups from Dior's original drawings. Acutely refined geometric engineering on the part of Dior's atelier staff, who were forced to interpret his sketches in material terms, resulted in white-muslin ghosts of the gowns to come.

Dior died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 52, but subsequent designers have carried on the themes of the House's signature style. With the exception of John Galliano, (whose later interpretations feel to me like cultural appropriation and costume design rather than fashion), most of Dior's successors exemplify the most exacting skills in French textile conception, design, and execution.

Christian Dior, Fall/Winter 1954, Chimene. Silk evening ensemble worn
by Mrs. William Randolph Hearst.

I'll just leave a few images here, with captions, that help explain why I love them.

Nicole Kidman's Oscar dress, Absinthe,
Christian Dior by John Galliano, Summer 1997. Notice the embroidery, the tassels, the edge trimmed in mink--all vintage Worth.

Christian Dior by John Galliano.

Current House of Dior Head, Maria Grazia Chiuri's, Tarot, Spring/Summer 2017
Painted and embroidered silk taffeta.

If you have the chance to see the Denver Art Museum's show--See it twice. Once for yourself, and once for Jennie.

(All the images in this post are my own, snapped at the Denver Art Museum's current Dior show.)

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