Hawthorne & Heaney visit Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams

Runway through the years #Dior #runway #couture

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Every now and then, there is an exhibition that we feel we just have to see, and usually one holds out until it (hopefully) comes to London. However the risk of missing out on ‘Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams’ at Musee Des Arts Decoratifs was one that was too great and we felt compelled to go. So last month, Natasha made the trip to Paris to see the much hyped display.

The exhibition begins with some history about Christian Dior’s family and his life before setting up the house as an art gallery owner and fashion illustrator. A brief introduction to the facets of the house it followed by the first main gallery. In this room, each section is divided by colour, each cabinate displaying a pallette with a variety of dresses, 12” minatures and accessories.

As an embroiderer, one of the most outstanding aspects of this exhibition was the level of detail you could see in the gowns and the emphasis that was placed on showing off the incredible textures. These were reflected in the papercut flowers and foliage that hung from the ceiling in a few of the rooms which were inspired by the fragrances that make up Dior’s famous perfumes.

Some of the textiles could be descibed as quite tradtional beading, whilst others would be considered to be more experimental, playing with feathers and layering but all were undeniably beautiful.

They also had an in house embroiderer demonstrating some tambour beading onto a panel of one of the gown and chatting with the public about what she was doing. The piece was framed up in a large slate frame, with one end complete and, the other drafted on. The drafts and drawings for the piece were hanging to one side of her with a partically completed gown on display behind her. The finished gown was part of the final gallery to put the whole process into context.

Tambour beading demonstration #Dior #tambour #embroidery

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The white gallery was reminiscent of the layout of the Savage Beauty exhibition at the V&A museum in London where you were dwarfed by the pieces, however here the emphasis was placed purely on the cut of the garments. Each one is the toile of a gown we had already seen in the body of the exhibition to explain the development of each piece and the alterations process it has been through to get to the final design.

Floor to ceiling toiles #dior #paris #dressmaking

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Final last gallery was all the real show stopping gowns, the space itself adds to the gravity of the items on display. They enhanced the experience with moving light displays across the walls which gave the impression of gold snow, unashamedly playing up to the couture fairytale.

Dior: designer of dreams was magical! #paris #fashionexhibition #dior

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It would be fair to say this exhibition was excellent, going around it all took at least 2 and a half hours going through it all but one could have stayed much longer. The amount of pieces on display and the generous space that was given to each one made it a very leisurely experience. I really enjoyed the way they played with scale in the lay out, starting off the with minatures gallery, then allowing you to get up close with the real sized pieces and then emmersing you in the white and final galleries.

If you would like to read another perspective on the exhibition, have a read of

‘Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams’ is on show at Musee Des Arts Decoratifs in Paris until 7th Jan 2018 so catch it while you have the chance!

Hawthorne & Heaney on Gold work

Here in the H&H studio we have fallen head over heels back in love with Gold work.  After having this lovely piece framed which was on show at the Henry Poole Exhibition at the Bowes Museum, we can;t get enough of this amazing technique.   The series starts with the rubbing (far left) taken from a Privy councillors coatee. This was then turned into a clear trace of the original pattern from which an embroidery draft can be created (centre). The far right image is that of the part finished embroidery showing the various layers that build together to make the final effect of the gold work.

 goldwork frame

frock coat goldwork

Now Spring/Summer 2015 fashion weeks have officially come to a close, we couldn’t help but notice some the the gold  and metal work details popping up. We can always trust that Dolce and Gabbana will display luxurious gold work inspired pieces and this season, they did not fail us.



Dior took a more subtle approach, applying this tradition technique in the details of their long length jackets, bringing a lady like edge to these masculine shape inspired pieces.



If you find yourself interested to know more about this historical technique there is a Beginners Goldwork course at The London Embroidery School starting next Wednesday, so don’t wait to secure your place. You can also find examples of Hawthorne & Heaney’s use of Goldwork in the portfolio of our website:

ANTI-and-PRO-goldwork-embroidery-for-SIBLINGHawthorne & Heaney for Sibling