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Dior - the architect of fashion

Updated: Jun 16, 2023

'Suddenly, one such flash of inspiration gives me an electric shock. l am possessed. like sap, the creative idea circulates now throughout the whole building.' -Christian Dior



My first proper attempt at creating a movie with music.

It’s funny how everything to starts to join together. Like one of those complicated jigsaw puzzles where all the pieces look the same and you have no idea if you will ever get it together. But you find some corners, then some edges and slowly it starts to make sense. The little tableaux start to take shape, then they link up and you begin to see the whole picture. What? I hear the collective cry. I am not sure I will be able to explain it clearly here but every event I have been to has started to mesh together in my head. Just as the influence of architecture, weaves itself through paintings, films and fashion, so the gilded embellishments of Versaille, royalty and revolutionaries are common threads are running through everything I see. Writers, artists, fashion designers, photographers, film makers, even shopkeepers, have all been and continue to be inspired by Paris, it's history and culture. If I pull one of the threads I am referring to, it might make a bit more sense. La Galerie Dior - Musée Dior is a museum dedicated to the life and work of Christian Dior. It was on my list but not at the top. I was looking forward to seeing the atelier and learning more but nothing prepared me for the sensory overload that greeted me. Dior originally wanted to be an architect, His dresses were not just pieces of couture, they were pieces of art. Constructed like sculptures or architectural spectacles they (in his words) ‘scaffolded’ a woman’s body. 'I wanted to be an architect. Being a designer I have to follow the laws, the principles of architecture. Speaking about the architecture of a dress or gown is not senseless. A dress is constructed according to the fabric grain and the fabric grain is the secret of couture and it is a secret that depends on the first law of architecture, obeying the laws of gravity. (Christian Dior). Dior also took inspiration from other places such as his mother's treasured floral gardens in his childhood home in Normandy. If you look closely at many of his dresses, the shapes and designs reflect the shapes of petals, corolla (the tube at the base of the petals), stamens and leaves. The rose garden was the influence behind the creation of his perfumes.

'I drew women-flowers, soft shoulders, fine waists like liana and wide skirts like corolla,” Christian Dior Louis XIV knew that art and architecture could communicate status and the Palace of Versailles was a symbol of opulence and power. Dior found the Palace a fascinating source of inspiration for his creations. His iconic designs are called Trianon, Versailles etc, and his successors have continued this historical lineage through their collections. It's impossible not to be inspired by the architecture of Paris. It's great renovation under Napoleon III and the unrelenting vision of Haussmann created a city that: '''...welcomed the world and charmed it with her scintillating beauty, a paradigm of what other cities could only dream of becoming. Despite the relentlessness of Haussmann’s knife, Paris is today what it is because of those bold interventions. Never to be repeated again at such a scale or in such a grandiose manner.' - urbanism and architecture ok It is this sort of connection I keep seeing as I discover Paris. I have pieced together the story of the French Revolution, for example, by seeing different facets of it through the eyes of different institutions. References to a book I am reading have been made in several exhibitions. The famous food markets of Les Halles are represented in artworks in museums throughout the city and in literature. Flowers adorn fabrics, make-up cases, wallpapers, every corner has a flower shop and a perfume shop is never far away. A nod to Marie Antoinette, even today. Shop windows are carefully curated using colour, structure and creativity and department stores stage installations and display significant art collections. Musée Dior needed time and care to look around . It's not something you can rush. You need to experience each room before you take out your camera, And each one is an experience in its own right; a fusion of light, darkness, colour, or no colour, and sound. Sumptuous, decadent spaces are set up to be photographed . It takes some time to absorb what you are seeing, and feeling, before you are ready start taking pictures. There are no bad angles in any of the spaces. Mirrors are carefully placed to allow you see all sides of a dress but also to create a work of art using reflection (a hark back to a previous blog post) Every photo becomes a new piece of artwork created in the moment. The white room was dreamlike but also reminiscent of every sci fi film I've seen plus it brought to mind the baddies control room in a Bond movie just before they hit the red button. Everything was white; walls, floors, dresses, staff (their clothes!). The lights were stark white and the space breathed out slowly creating a hushed silence that seemed to quietly hum with the glow. The Ballroom recreated the extravagance of Dior's parties and was more than a nod to the great balls at Versaille. Lights were mapped onto the scene and a beautiful soundscape took you to another place. I know a lot of people who say 'Pah! I’m not into designers, I don't care for logos'. But when you start to understand the history of one of the top brands, it takes on a new importance and meaning, The care, thought and attention to each design, and the quality if its construction all shine through. I defy anyone to dismiss this brand after this glorious exhibition. Colours, shapes and music swirl around you like a swishy silk skirt from a palace soirée, the layers of tulle underneath slowly twisting and turning to reveal the story. Blimey. That exhibition was beyond expectation! As I was walking back. trying to assimilate what I had experienced, and why my brain was exploding, it occured to me that when you take a sabbatical you are the architect of your own experience. I walked part of the route on autopilot as my feet were hurting from so much walking, and Paris feels very familiar now, So I stopped, just to take it all in. Even the seemingly mundane has appeal and interest if you look. You don’t have to be racing off on crazy adventures to appreciate and be grateful for where you are. You just need to pause. Not that any part of this is crazy. I had a plan. It took time for all the pieces to come together but when they did, it was and continues to be worth it. I am going to finish with some pictures. They are so much better than anything I could write. Oh, and check out the little video at the start, It's a first planned attempt and a little rough around the edges but I'm rather pleased with it.









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