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  • Nadja Sayej

Inside The Christian Dior Exhibit In Montreal

Fashion designer Christian Dior with two models wearing his creations. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images) GETTY IMAGES

Christian Dior once said that “Simplicity, good taste and grooming are the three fundamentals of good dressing and these do not cost money.”

If only Instagram could follow suit. For the rest of us who worship etiquette and refined style, there is the Dior exhibition now on view at the McCord Museum in Montreal until September 26.

This is a traveling exhibition from the the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, and is presented by Holt Renfrew Ogilvy, covering the house of Dior from 1947 to 1957, a time when he defined the style of the modern woman. On view are dresses, evening gowns, shoes and perfume created by the designer, as well as video from his Parisian fashion shows. As Suzanne Sauvage, president and CEO of the McCord Museum says, Dior was a “brilliant couturier who revolutionized postwar fashion.”

It wasn't exactly a time of excess and Dior proved that postwar elegance could be simple and minimal, yet stylish. Today, his designs are timeless. Over 50 garments on view, including 11 from the McCord’s own collection. The garments are accompanied by over 100 objects, including old photographs, magazine covers, gloves and jewels.

A model wearing a wool day dress by Dior. Original Publication: Picture Post - 8284 - Paris Fashions - pub. 1956 (Photo by Savitry/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images) GETTY IMAGES

His reputation thrived in Paris after the Second World War and on view are dresses that defined modern style. The designer founded the House of Dior in 1946, and he quickly become a household name for trailblazing the “New Look” in upscale Parisian fashion, which Dior called style that “reflects the times.”

He ran his brand until his passing in 1957. On view are his daytime suits and dresses for the working woman who wanted to look professional yet feminine, like his “Pentecote” from his spring-summer 1950 collection, as well as his evening gowns, which were both traditional yet modern, like his “Topaze” dress from his 1951 fall-winter collection.

Many of the dresses on view belonged to Montreal socialite Margaret Rawlings Hart, who studied in Paris, and was a huge fan of Dior’s designs throughout her life (1910-2007).

“Dior’s impact on the silhouette of the late 1940s and 1950s was unprecedented,” said Cynthia Cooper, the fashion curator at the McCord Museum.

“The cut of his garments and their craftsmanship were exquisite; each garment tells the story of a creative process inspired by yards of luxury fabric and a wealth of expertise.”

“This exhibition provides an exceptional opportunity see the work of this renowned couture house up close and relive a pivotal decade in fashion,” adds Cooper.

30th November 1956: The fashion house of Christian Dior, London, reveals its Spring Collection. 'Caracas' is an evening dress of rose-printed shantung in the fashionable 'Empire-Line'. (Photo by George W. Hales/Fox Photos/Getty Images) GETTY IMAGES


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