The Brooklyn Museum is giving The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute a run for its money this year with its high fashion exhibit featuring the House of Dior.
The museum is establishing itself as a destination for major surveys of fashion, following incredible exhibits like "Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion" and "The Queen and The Crown: A Virtual Exhibition of Costumes from The Queen’s Gambit and The Crown." This year, "Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams" continues that trend.
"The Brooklyn Museum has a long record of recognizing important contributions in the history of fashion design, from 'The Story of Silk (1934)' to the groundbreaking 'Of Men Only (1976)' to the recent 'Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion (2019') and now 'Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams.' Each exemplifies the power of fashion to influence and shift visual culture at large," says Matthew Yokobosky, Senior Curator of Fashion and Material Culture, Brooklyn Museum.
Opening September 10, the major exhibit — co-curated by Dior scholar Florence Müller of the Avenir Foundation Curator of Textile Art and Fashion at the Denver Art Museum — thoroughly explores the high fashion history of The House of Dior, which dates back to the turn of the 20th century, when the brand's namesake Christian Dior founded the label.
The multi-gallery exhibit brings many of Dior's sources of inspiration to life, including flowers, nature, classical and contemporary art, featuring artwork from the Brooklyn Museum's collections. Objects on display will be primarily from the extensive Dior archives and some 200 haute couture garments as well as photographs, archival videos, sketches, vintage perfume elements, and accessories.
Below are five things you can expect to do at "Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams:"
You'll be transported to an ethereal world of fashion
The Brooklyn Museum wastes no time transporting visitors into the world of Dior — as you enter the circular exhibit, you're met with a video of models strutting down the catwalk in their Dior duds and you're quickly thrust into mid-20th century fashions that the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe once wore.
The entire exhibit is set up across two rings — an outer ring, which features separate sections detailing the history, the legacy and the inspiration of Christian Dior, and the inner ring, where "The Enchanted Garden" exists.
While looks are modeled on mannequins along the walls, some of them are pulled out to give you a 360-degree view. But once you enter the Enchanted Garden, the exhibit crescendos into an immersive space where the fashions become part of the landscape and seemingly float up to the ballroom's ceiling and projections of clouds and birds move across the walls.
Whether you choose to go right into the Enchanted Garden or peruse the outer ring, which also uses lighting and thoughtful showcasing, the exhibit's creative design allows you to delve right into the subject matter at hand.
You'll get up close to the most incredible garments
Seeing Dior up close is a different experience than seeing it on TV or in a magazine. The exhibit allows you to actually see the intricate embroidery, trim and lace, and construction of every piece (except, of course, the ones near the actual ceiling).
And every piece is its own masterpiece. The timeless ball gowns, the chic suits and the form-fitting jackets all require their own spotlight and they shine.
You'll see the iconic fashion photographs
There's an entire section of fashion photographs by world-renowned photographers like Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, Gordon Parks and Richard Rutledge featuring Dior creations.
These images are largely what comes to mind when many of us think of Dior — perfectly ornamented models and celebrities in the most tailored and polished designer apparel. Seeing them all in one space is awe-inspiring not only of the clothing in the pictures but of the sheer beauty of the photos themselves, black and white and in dramatic color.
You'll see the stars who wore it all
In a section called "Stars in Dior," which is covered with literal projected stars, you get to see the exact Dior outfits worn by celebrities across time from Rihanna to Princess Diana. Each getup is paired with a photo of the celebrity that wore it, so you can see it in form and in use.
You'll see Dior's legacy
Galleries are also devoted to Dior and the artistic directors who succeeded him—Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons, and Maria Grazia Chiuri, each of which have stunning haute couture on display here.
"Today, the work of Maria Grazia Chiuri has reshaped the Dior dream for a new generation, with a worldview that brings with it inclusivity and respect as key philosophical directives. We couldn’t be more excited to present these innovative, beguiling—and technically outstanding—designs to our audiences," Yokobosky says.
"Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams" is on at the Brooklyn Museum September 10, 2021–February 20, 2022. Tickets are $25.