Well, I finally made it to The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture exhibition here in Melbourne. A girlfriend and I had been keen to go as soon as the show opened back in August, but as happens, life had managed to get in the way of us attending.
All that said, if I’m being truthful, I’d also been a little apprehensive about visiting. There’s another exhibition celebrating the same anniversary in Paris and I’d had concerns that Melbourne might have received some of the ‘lesser’ items.
But I needn’t have worried. The beautifully curated collection, which is getting rave reviews, was definitely worth the visit…and the wait. My friend and I both loved every minute of the time we spent at the National Gallery of Victoria.
It’s hard to decide whether you would call the pieces art or magic. They certainly can’t be simply described as clothes. I was struck by the creativity, consistency and workmanship that has gone into every single piece – regardless of the designer – whether it be Christian Dior himself, or one of the subsequent custodians of the House (think names like Yves Saint-Laurent, John Galliano and Raf Simons, to name just a few). The cuts, the stitching, the draping, the attention to every single detail made it clear why haute couture is considered so very special.
As we wandered past dozens of designs, I was reminded of some timeless style lessons. Could it be that they were originally created by Dior? Perhaps. Even if this is not the case, they remain as true today as when Dior was at the height of his designing powers.
Reminders From Dior
Reminder One – It Pays To Highlight The Narrowest Point
Nipped in waists were a feature of Dior’s ‘New Look’ and we were treated to some of the very best examples via the static displays. Even when there were metres and metres of material included in a design, where the waists were highlighted, the looks were slimming – no matter the actual size of the mannequin.
I remember learning the concept of accentuating the waist to create a slender look at a styling class some time back, It is especially handy for hourglass and triangle body shapes and supports the theory that, rather than providing a disguise to the body parts we aren’t so keen on, shapeless items can sometimes make you look bigger than you actually are.
If you don’t feel comfortable wearing clothing that is more fitted you might choose to show off your waist using long jewellery or scarves.
Reminder Two – Never Underestimate The Power Of Navy
So many of the Dior costumes were a riot of colour, offset with all the neutrals – particularly black, just as you would expect from a Parisian couture house.
However the colour that particularly stood out to me as I tried to take everything in was navy. Every piece in navy seemed both classic and modern at the same time.
Pleasingly, navy suits most complexions and is often more forgiving than black. If you are looking to add an extra dimension to your wardrobe, navy is definitely worth considering.
Reminder Three – Quality Always Shines Through
Don’t worry. I haven’t lost my mind. I’m not about to suggest you race out to get your hands on some haute couture. What I do recommend is that when you are adding new items to your wardrobe you invest in the best quality you can find.
Yes, I know I bang on about this all the time but I promise it is important. Spending a little more up front, can provide years of enjoyment and deliver a very low cost per wear.
At the very least, remember to check seams and fastenings and think about whether the fabric will pull or ball.
Periodically analysing your wardrobe to understand any gaps will allow you to invest in quality while making the most of the sales…many of which will be ramping up very soon.
Reminder Four – There Is Always Room For Femininity In Fashion
From form fitting silhouettes to floral fabrics, the Melbourne Dior exhibition was dominated by femininity. Dresses in every shape imaginable made up the majority of the exhibits.
It is easy to reach past more feminine styles for practical everyday looks. But I was reminded that if you want to make an impression, it is hard to go past a gorgeous frock. And, when you think about it, they are no harder to wear than any other item of clothing.
Have you visited either of the Dior exhibitions? What did you think? And did you learn any lessons I missed? Please take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
And until next time – au revoir.