A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of going to a ROM Speaks event at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) with one of my favourite ladies, Émeraude. This one was on 70 Years of Dior, with Florence Müller leading the discussion whilst elaborating on the history of the House of Dior from the dawn of its creation in 1947 to the modern day, as well as her career working with the House from Paris to North America. It was incredible to see how the style of the House has evolved, from the flared skirts and tapered waists when Christian Dior was alive and oversaw the designs, to the modern day embroidery and flowing skirts, 60 years after his 1957 death (and under the creative eye of Maria Grazia Chiuri).
After the talk was finished, we found out that the opening hours of the exhibit were extended for those attending the 70 Years of Dior event, which enabled the two of us to take the elevator up to the Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles & Costume to see everything. Having missed the large scale exhibit in Paris this past January, along with the hundreds of dresses spanning the entire existence of the House, I spent hours pouring over the online photos instead. The colour-coding, styling, arrangement… everything about that exhibit had me sighing over the sheer magic that Dior has been able to create over the past 70 years. Of course, I have a particular fascination with history and thus, the fashion that emerged from Christian Dior’s day (between the opening of the House in 1947 and his death in 1957); this decade produced countless outfits that have left me wishing that women of 2018 still dressed to impress in a similar way. It seems like such a lovely idea to have Parisian haute couture flown in to the city, where one can try them on in Holt Renfrew before picking out the ideal gown for a perfect evening out.
Thankfully, Toronto’s ROM is in the midst of hosting its own Dior exhibit, showcasing pieces from the first decade of the House. Being in my own city, this was obviously an opportunity that I couldn’t miss out on. These ensembles have been collected from Toronto socialites who had custom pieces tailored to their bodies during these 10 years, and who have graciously lent them to the museum to be showcased. If you click here and scroll down, the ROM has various videos of the acquisition process of the different pieces being exhibited, interviews with a couple of the donors (hearing their memories of wearing the dresses in their younger years is incredible!), and even original footage of Christian Dior working his magic. It’s all so very fascinating to see!
But to see all of these pieces in person, to be able to nearly press your nose against the protective glass cases some of these pieces were behind in order to examine the intricate detailing of the embroidery, the ribbon, the stitching of the hemming, and the quality of the fabric…it’s totally different than merely admiring a photograph online, or printed in a magazine. What’s more, to see so many beautifully ornate dresses in one spot was overwhelming in such a good way! Your eyes are constantly roving from one dress to the next, drinking in the intricate detailing of even the most simple of dresses before wandering forward to the next. There are also the various perfumes from this decade on display, as well as beautiful jewelry sets (my favourite of which I’ve included a photo of, above right).
No matter what area of the exhibit you’re standing in, there’s something equally striking to see at all angles. It truly is a remarkable exhibit, one which anyone who appreciates fashion (or even art in one of its many forms) will instantly fall in love with.
If you’re in Toronto and have yet to see the Dior exhibit, it has been extended by popular demand to April 8, 2018. For students, the ROM offers free admission to students on Tuesdays, so that would be a great time for you to hit it up!
Have you seen any of the Dior exhibits? What it your favourite haute couture designer? Let me know in the comments!