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If your instagram feed is anything like ours then you will not have failed to notice the hugh amount of attention that the Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition is getting at the V & A Museum at the moment. Following its opening on the 2nd February, the exhibition which is held in the museum’s new Sainsbury wing, it has received an unprescedented amount of visitors.
The exhibition is currently sold out, with tickets being drip released around the 15th of each month and a few kept back each day on a first come first served basis. Members of the V&A however can still visit at their leisure and Hawthorne and Heaney were lucky enough to visit the exhibition on members night in order to bring you our insight.
The London exhibition has a much greater focus on the individual designers of the House of Dior so if you had already seen it at Musee Des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, then this version brings a different angle. Split into a series of sections, this part of the exhibition really gives you a sense of what each creative director has brought to the house. Furthermore it also highlights some of the key aspects of Dior as a fashion house, which holds all the designs together over the years. Identifying these values allows them to keep delivering pieces which are recognisably ‘Dior’.
Each rooms has its own sense of the wow factor with the paper cut flowers room, displaying some of the more romantic pieces amongst the flowers which were dripping from the ceiling. The center piece of which is this gown embellished with hundreds of tiny cut feathers.
We can not cover this exhibition without mentioning the toile room. Probably the simplist room with its ehite cubes, it really brings home the process of producing couture garments and the work that goes into them. It is lovely to look around and recognise some of the dresses you have already seen the final versions of, in their developmental form. As well as taking the time to watch the series of videos they have on display amongst the toiles which show the making process of other Dior producs such as shoes and jewellery from their specialist makers.
From an embroiderers perpective, there is plenty to see and appreciate in this exhibition. The variety of styles and techniques is huge so whilst all the pieces may not necessarily be your taste, you can not help but be humbled by the skill.
Some of the more contemporary pieces provide a different perspective on ‘les petite mains’ (the little hands; referring to the skilled makers that create the designers vision) that we get to see a modern application of traditonal skills such as the use of beads and velvet in this a line evening gown.
If you find the opportunity, then this exhibition is a absolute must see for fashion, design and embroidery fans everywhere. Follow the link for all the booking details.
All photos courtesy of Natasha Searls-Punter
Dior: Designer of Dreams
The Victoria and Albert Museum, London
On now until 14th July 2019 (extended to the 1st Sept 2019)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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: