Iconic French fashion house Dior celebrates its 70th anniversary this year by taking over Les Arts Décoratifs museum in Paris with a lavish retrospective. It’s the museum’s largest fashion event to date. “Rarely has there been a fashion exhibition of this kind. It will go down in history,” says Olivier Gabet, Museum Director of Les Arts Décoratifs.
Christian Dior is one of the world's biggest and most famous fashion brands. The label’s dramatic, glamourous and feminine designs have been worn by film legends Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly and Marlene Dietrich; and more recently by Jennifer Lawrence, Marion Cotillard and Natalie Portman.
The exhibition, Christian Dior, Couturier du Rêve (“Christian Dior, Dream Couturier”) tracks the Dior journey from its founding in 1947 to the current day. It features more than 300 of its haute couture gowns, alongside bags, shoes, jewellery, hats and perfume bottles. Fashion photographs, documents, sketches, paintings, sculptures and pieces of furniture depict sources of designers’ inspirations. More on the timeline of the creative forces behind the Dior name here.
Dior’s costume jewellery is, and has always been, an integral part of the label’s collections. Dior himself was famous for creating custom-made costume jewellery (a relatively new concept introduced by Chanel in 1924) to complement his couture. Early pieces were made in small numbers for certain outfits or clients, but later, production went larger scale.
Victoire De Castellane is Art Director of Dior Fine Jewellery and has held the post since 1998. Born into an aristocratic Parisian family De Castellane recalls watching her grandmother change her jewellery to match her outfits several times a day. At 5 years old she dismantled a charm bracelet, reworking it into a pair of earrings; and at 12 she melted medals she received at her holy communion ceremony to create a gold ring.
Creative and fearless, her work is visceral, playful and full of escapism. The world of Hollywood and the technicolour of musicals were inspirational; she cites film icons Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, and American artist, Mary Blair, who created concept art for the Walt Disney Company, as heroines. Whilst she loves a fairytale her ultra-feminine designs are also guided by a wish to empower women. “I make jewels that are women’s friends, that protect them. I would like my jewellery to give women the power to escape from reality" she says.
De Castellane’s debut line for Dior was launched in 1999. Her high-end jewellery is expensive, but her work has revolutionised jewellery design and influenced generations of designers. She designs both very tiny, delicate pieces - worn like a second skin - and also very large pieces; she trailblazed the mix of precious and semi-precious stones, and use of lacquered gold.
The rose features heavily in her jewellery - the flower that first inspired Dior to sketch his debut collection in 1947. Dior loved the countryside and had a real passion for flowers, in particular the rose, which his mother grew in the garden of her seaside villa in Granville.
Dior’s Autumn 2017 jewellery collection features white resin beads, bumble bees and cosmos-inspired shapes. Check out our slightly more affordable Shlomit Ofir Rock Star Ear Jackets, Patricia Nicolas’ Bumble Bee Ring, and Fleur De Carotte’s no.2 Minerale Necklace.
Christian Dior, Couturier du Rêve runs July 5th until January 7th 2018.