What to Expect at the Denver Art Museum’s Dior Exhibit

Three years ago, Florence Müller, Avenir Foundation Curator of Textile Arts and Fashion at the Denver Art Museum (DAM) proposed a monumental idea — to debut a Christian Dior haute-couture fashion and art experience to the United States and use the DAM as the location. The experience, Dior: From Paris to the World, would include hundreds of timeless, sophisticated and intricate works of art and explain the history of the House of Dior, founded in 1947. Müller’s majestic vision for this exhibition is now a reality. Opening to the public on Monday, November 19 at the DAM, the magnificent exhibition presents an immersive story to all those who pass through the rooms of designs.

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Christian Dior began illustrating fashion sketches following World War II. Following the war, he wanted to bring glamour, grace and femininity back to women and rejuvenate the fashion world. “Femininity I think speaks to everybody,” Müller explained. “Today, every woman wants to look feminine and beautiful. This concept that was so strong after [the] Second World War about renewing elegance [and] sophistication. He said it this time, ‘I want to make all the women look like flowers and like princesses, and everybody still wants to dream.’”

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As Dior introduced his first designs in 1947, many craved his youthful and fresh patterns that allowed the female curves to be present in the clothes. Harpers Bazaar editor, Carmel Snow, declared these particular designs the “New Look.” After that, the House of Dior began. Throughout the years in the House, seven creative directors have followed suit in Dior’s vision to compose designs that portray strong feminine characteristics and are coupled with each director’s own creative ideas. It is through these creative directors that the House of Dior has thrived season after season, and all through the generations endured the same elegant grace and supremacy in work.

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Included in the exhibition are hundreds of hand-made, intricate designs that come alive and astonish viewers. In addition to the artful conception of these designs, another paramount detail needed for this exhibition was architecture. This detail was necessary to ensure the designs shined in their entire splendor for viewers. Throughout the exhibition, all the rooms take on different characteristics based on Dior’s sketches, personal life and the creative directors that succeeded him after his death in 1957.

“We look very closely at the themes and we clearly saw there was a timeline running through with the seven creative directors and the other seven themes are about spaces or about times with Mr. Dior’s obsessions,” Sergio Zapata, junior architect at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture explained. “We literally then use the same material, the same aluminum panels for the exhibition and then we are going to give different curvatures depending on how the themes are located,” Zapata noted.

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One of the prominent rooms in the exhibition was the Garden Room. This area served as a territory filled with delicate and immeasurable garden-inspired designs. In following suit, the metal architectural background was fabricated with the idea in mind of Dior’s Granville garden at his country home outside of Paris. “Here you have a theme that is about a garden so we used [a] more specific type of panel, dusted pink, because that is Mr. Dior’s favorite color from his childhood home in Granville,” Zapata discussed. In this room, the metal architecture takes specific curves as it serves as a background for the mannequins and truly imitates the curves of fresh flowers in a beautiful garden.

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Throughout the exhibition, it is palpable how massive of an imprint Dior made not only in the fashion world but the world as a whole. Following his death, creative directors continue to produce designs that exemplify his foundational theories. Bringing this expansive exhibit to Denver is colossal. “I think it puts Denver on the fashion map,” said Jane Burke, senior curatorial assistant at DAM. “I think that it’s showing that Denver is very international. What’s been really fun about this exhibition is we have people from all over the world, Paris and Asia, representing everywhere and so it’s really fun, I think. It’s a great way to show off the city and to say fashion is everywhere and it’s an experience everyone can relate to and access.”

Dior: From Paris to the World will be on view from November 19 to March 3. Ticket info can be found here. The DAM is located at 100 W 14th Ave Pkwy, Denver. 

All photography by Rebecca Grant

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