DIOR - A New Look
Kunstmuseum, Den Haag, NL
21.09.2024 – 26.01.2025

DIOR - A New Look Kunstmuseum, Den Haag, NL 21.09.2024 – 26.01.2025

Christian Dior, Cocktail dress ‘San Francisco’, haute couture collection Fall/Winter 1955, made by Sartoria Giunta, Milan Collection
Kunstmuseum Den Haag, Photo: Adriaan van Dam / Kunstmuseum Den Haag

In one way, you have to be a curator, to work with the heritage of Dior. But at the same time, I have tried to introduce my personal style, and my personal point of view about the brand and about women. I think we have to reflect women now.’ – Maria Grazia Chiuri

Timeless, trailblazing, elegant and influential – the designs of Christian Dior (1905-1957) are all of these. Just after the Second World War, he established his own house in Paris, which soon became famous, and he quickly took the fashion world by storm. His ‘New Look’, with its full skirts, changed fashion, and his silhouettes were worn from Paris to London, New York, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro. His successors – Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri – have continuously perpetuated his visionary boldness. Their talent and boundless creativity have left an indelible mark on the unique history of the House of Dior. “The ideas of the founding-couturier are still very much alive, and this will be showcased this autumn at Kunstmuseum Den Haag”, says curator Madelief Hohé. “His designs will be shown in dialogue with those of Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dior’s current – and first female – Creative Director.”

DIOR – A New Look will open on 21 September.
Dior is one of the world’s greatest and most alluring couture houses, established at a time when Paris was recovering from the Second World War, and had yet to regain its status as a fashion capital. The reserved but ambitious Christian Dior grew up on the Normandy coast, in a pink villa with a colourful flower garden that he planted with his mother. He had intended to become an architect, and before the war had a career running a gallery and then working for other fashion houses. In 1946, he boldly opened his House on Avenue Montaigne and presented his first, ultra-feminine collection in 1947. It was interpreted as an audacious revolution. He dispensed with the strong, square shoulder lines that had dominated the wartime look, introducing the full skirts, tiny waists and sloping shoulders of the Corolle line and sophistication and precision tailoring in his figure hugging En Huit line. Upon seeing this captivating spectacle, Carmel Snow, the editor-in-chief of the American magazine Harper's Bazaar, exclaimed, "It’s quite a revolution, dear Christian, your dresses have such a New Look!". 

The name Dior was soon widely known, his creations worn around the world. Christian Dior was only briefly able to enjoy his success, as he died at a young age. But although he stood at the helm of the House of Dior for only ten years, his work still has great impact to this day. 

The Dior Spirit
“In December 1946, as a result of the war and uniforms, women still looked and dressed like Amazons. But I designed clothes for flowerlike women, with rounded shoulders, full feminine busts, and hand-span waists above enormous spreading skirts”, Christian Dior said in in his memoirs. It is appropriate that this collection has gone down in history as the ‘New Look’. 

The New Look is one of the most imitated fashion silhouettes of all time, but Dior continued to surprise the world with new shapes, like the Zigzag line (1948), the H line (1954) or the A line (1955). The founding couturier presented 22 successful and influential collections. His House grew, opened branches in New York and London, and signed licensing agreements with houses in several countries. It was not only couture clients who loved Dior’s designs. Across the globe, his lines defined the wardrobes of millions of women. His unique, inspirational legacy is the focus of DIOR – A New Look.

Dior Women
The title of this exhibition not only refers to the iconic, feminine New Look, but also to the present, where the founding-couturier’s ideas live on. Maria Grazia Chiuri has thoroughly explored Christian Dior’s vision and the DNA of the House, but she designs for today’s women. “If Dior is about femininity, then it is about women. And not about what it was to be a woman 50 years ago, but to be a woman today.” Her first ready-to-wear collection in 2016 was highly significant, based on the New Look, but combined with a simple T-shirt bearing the slogans ‘(Dio)Revolution’ or ‘We should all be feminists’, inspired by the eponymous essay written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The Creative Director likes to work with female artists: for instance, she worked with Isabella Ducrot for the staging of the Dior spring-summer 2024 haute couture show, or, more recently, with Shakuntala Kulkarni who conceived a unique scenography for the Dior autumn-winter 2024-2025 ready-to-wear défilé. To tie in with this, Kunstmuseum Den Haag invited Dutch photographer and artist Viviane Sassen to produce a series of photographs specially for the exhibition, in collaboration with Dior.

Exceptional friendships
Actress Marlène Dietrich liked to wear Dior both in her private life and in her films. Indeed, she made it a precondition of her consent, replying “No Dior, no Dietrich” to Alfred Hitchcock, before the filming of Stage Fright. Other famous names associated with Dior include Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco, among other remarkable figures. We will not only be highlighting famous personalities, however, but also the many women who have done so much work behind the scenes.

Fresh Look
DIOR – A New Look will take a fresh look at the House, featuring designs by Christian Dior and by his successors Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri. The central narrative will be the dialogue between the work of founding-couturier Christian Dior and that of Maria Grazia Chiuri. The bold, unique and progressive style of both designers has great impact, and both perfectly reflect the spirit of their age. With their kind of statements they’ve both given the House a fresh ‘New Look’. 

Only in the Hague
DIOR – A New Look was initiated and conceived by Kunstmuseum Den Haag and has not been shown elsewhere. Designs from the museum’s own collection will be joined by exceptional loans from Dior Héritage, as well as items from Palais Galliera (Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris) and other collections (some of them private) in Belgium, Germany, Monaco and the United States. One unique aspect will be the addition of Dior costume jewellery from one of the largest private collections in the world. A selection of drawings, sketches and iconic photographs will complete the show. 

The exhibition will be designed by art director Maarten Spruyt. A Dutch-language catalogue and a children’s art book about the young Christian Dior by Annemarie van Haeringen will be published to accompany the exhibition. For the first time, there will be a pop-up store right outside the exhibition where visitors will be able to purchase mementoes of DIOR – A New Look.

The exhibition has been made possible by Nationale-Nederlanden and Blockbusterfonds.

More information: https://www.kunstmuseum.nl/en/exhibitions/dior-new-look

Christian Dior, Evening dress ‘Finlande’, haute couture collection Spring/Summer 1957, Photo: Courtesey Dior Héritage, Paris

Constance Wibaut, Fashion drawing of cocktail dress and evening coat by Yves Saint Laurent for Dior, Spring/Summer collection 1958, Ink and gouache on paper, Collection Kunstmuseum Den Haag

Maria Grazia Chiuri for Dior, Evening dress, haute couture collection Fall/Winter 2021, collection Dior Héritage, Paris, Photo: Viviane Sassen for Kunstmuseum Den Haag Art Direction: Maarten Spruyt Technical assistance: Matthew Miziolek Hair & Make-up: Irena Ruben @ House of Orange, assistance: Luliia Parovincha Model: Aline Gaudin @ Ford Models Pariss Locatie: Christian Dior Couture, Paris

John Galliano for Dior, Ensemble haute couture collection Spring/Summer 2009, ensemble in collection Kunstmuseum Den Haag, Photo: Peter Stigter

Marlene Dietrich dressed in Christian Dior suit ‘Acacias’, haute couture collection Spring/Summer 1949, worn in movie Stage Fright (Alfred Hitchcock 1950); suit is coloured in the photo, Photo: ANP Photo Everett Collection / Everett Col

Maison Christian Dior, Avenue Montaigne, Paris, publication Dior Paris, 1953, Collection Kunstmuseum Den Haag

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