A Colorful Look at Dior

Blowing out another candle on its 60th anniversary cake, Christian Dior feted the opening of its latest exhibition, &"Dior: 60 Years High on Color," at its museum here Friday.

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GRANVILLE, France — Blowing out another candle on its 60th anniversary cake, Christian Dior feted the opening of its latest exhibition, &”Dior: 60 Years High on Color,” at its museum here Friday.

The show, which runs through Sept. 23, explores nine of the house&’s signature codes in the hands of its five designers, from Christian Dior to John Galliano. The event coincides with the English-language release of Dior&’s style bible, the &”Little Dictionary of Fashion,” which was originally published in 1954.

The trickle-down effect of Dior&’s codes into other areas such as jewelry and shoes plays as a side note to the exhibition, notably via a display of the house&’s landmark beauty launches. These are mainly housed in cabinets in the winter garden. Highlights include Dior&’s first scent, the urn-shaped Miss Dior flacon from 1947, whose curvy lines evoked Dior&’s New Look silhouette, and the house&’s original raging red lipstick, launched in 1955, that came packaged in a striking glass obelisk-shaped casing.

Also on display is the house&’s defunct Visiora beauty set that was created for makeup professionals of the movie world in 1982.

Dior&’s treasured Granville-inspired hues, pink and gray, open the show on the ground floor, paired with variations on the bow and the houndstooth print, from a Galliano gown adorned with bows to a flamboyant houndstooth coat by Gianfranco Ferré that sports an oversized bow at the neck.

&”First and foremost, we want visitors to remember they&’re entering what was once Dior&’s home,” said curator Jean-Luc Dufresne, a distant cousin of the designer, gesturing to an oil painting of the late designer&’s aunt, Alexandra, that hangs in the ground-floor hall, a sparse wood-floored space dotted with antique furniture.

Glass-walled showcases have replaced what were once rooms. In one corner stands a vast, early 20th-century Japanese cabinet filled with Baroque costume jewelry provided by the Opera Garnier.

&”Much of Dior&’s costume jewelry has its roots in dramatic stage jewelry, in particular those pieces by Galliano,” said Daniele Fouache, head of jewelry for the Opera Garnier.

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Meanwhile, three pink gowns stand in what used to be the office of Dior&’s father, its walls lined with original gouache paintings of the house&’s original beauty campaigns by René Gruau.

It&’s curious to think this former office that Dior loathed while growing up, a room he associated with the shrill ring of his father&’s telephone, has morphed into a showroom for some of his most sugary designs such as Fete, a Belle Epoque-inspired gown from spring-summer 1948.

Upstairs in Dior&’s childhood bedroom, a sea of green gowns, ranging from absinthe to emerald hues, has taken up residence. &”It&’s a place of memories on several levels,” said Dufresne. &”If anything, this exhibition highlights the importance for a house to protect its lineage.”

The exhibition is a chance to peruse rare pieces typically kept under lock and key by collectors. Elsewhere, visitors are treated to a visual to-and-fro between original design sketches — tacked with fabric swatches and scribbled with the name of the garment&’s maker and model-to-be — and the final product in one of the surrounding vitrines.

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