Step inside the world of the iconic couturier house at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum
Toronto has been graced with an awe-inspiring and exclusive exhibition. The highly anticipated expo showcases ten years of Dior’s masterful creations. The Royal Ontario Museum has teamed up with Dior, Paris’ own fashion house for a groundbreaking showcase, highlighting Dior’s works from 1947 to 1957.
In the age of Instagram, we are constantly living life through a flattened screen. Alexandra Palmer, Senior Curator of Textiles and Costume at the ROM, hopes to engage the audience in a different way. The exhibition will expand people's knowledge of the complexities of fashion. The exhibition is there to look closely at how the clothes were made, and the ateliers behind it and what it is that makes each piece so special.
In celebration house’s 70th anniversary, the exhibition, Christian Dior, explores the creations that brought couturier homes back to life after the war. Between those years is where Monsieur Dior earned his staple in the fashion industry with his groundbreaking feminine cuts. The masterful tailoring became Christian Dior’s New Look—a revolutionary style with full-bodied skirts and soft slender shoulders. “The strength of our collection here, is the post-war period” shares Palmer.
Over 40 looks on display, arranged thematically, stand proudly in glass cases allowing ROM visitors to get up close and personal with the intricate detail and original embroidery. “The dresses are posed from daytime to late afternoon, dinner and cocktail” reveals Alexandra Palmer.
On November 22nd, 2017 media, who’s who of Toronto's fashion and art scene and lifetime Dior collectors were invited to an intimate preview of the exhibit. All gowns in this exposition were donated from high society, each and every dress told it’s own story. The gowns came from some of the best-dressed women and socialites from Montreal and Toronto. The list of donors includes Mrs John David Eaton. The first Dior piece given to the museum came from Mrs Eaton in 1956. A two-piece dinner dress from the Autumn-Winter 1948 Ailee Line called, Nocturne. Beautiful embroidery samples were graciously on lend from three French embroidery firms: Rébé form Musee du Pays Rabastinois, Maison Hurel, and Ginisty from Christian Dior Héritage.
The name Christian Dior in internationally known. But what most people don’t see is what goes on behind the doors of the courtier house. The retrospective pays tribute to those artists who built the masterpieces. Original archives of silk samples and painted prints are proudly displayed in immaculate condition. Attendees are able to take a glimpse at the create processes before the pieces come to life. “[Guests] look at the experiments in pattern designs and how to create new silhouettes,” says Alexandra “In fashion, you can really spend time making these experiments.”
A garment seen throughout the show is one of Dior's most recognised and famous pieces of that era, the corset. Women in that period were fed up with the masculine suitings and stiff work attire. It was then; Monsieur Dior reintroduced dresses that were made to make women feel like women again.The 1950s became a transformation in the power of fashion. Dior swept away the masculine style and replaced them with the ultra femme silhouette. “It was all presented as a complete package that knocked everyone's socks off” Alexandra shares “It was true magic, the Dior corset was a part of that and why everything worked.”
A number of accessories on display feature the original Dior stamp branded perfumes and lipsticks, to name a few. Shoes, ribbons and elegant gloves, also on lend from several private lenders. Archives of Dior in the press were scattered effortlessly in several casings. Another extremely special piece graciously donated is a one of a kind bat mitzvah dress made exclusively by Monsieur Dior himself in 1957. The dress is fit for a princess with a full skirt and daffodil embroidery.
Technology was there to assist visitors, with a modern touch. Ipads were available to allow guests learn more about the pieces on display. Photographs of the technical sketches showed detail of the construction and well as photos and stories about the women who wore the dresses. A guest in attendance, Lillian Weiss, at the age of 97 stood confidently in front of her dress. The dress was called Batignolles, after the neighbourhood in Paris. Images on the Ipad showed her wearing dress in a nightclub in Cambridge, Ontario. “I hope I haven't aged!” she laughs.
This permanent collection located in the Patricia Harris Gallery is ranked amongst the top three collections in the world for fashion in textiles. Alexandra Palmer hopes to share her knowledge and passion for Dior. “Dior is like champagne, it gets better with age and come from a French land.” says Palmer. Toronto is given a gift filled with romance and history. The exposition sheds light on the many layers and creativity in the industry that fall beneath the name and highest house of couture, Christian Dior.