J’adore Dior

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He is arguably one of the greatest contributors to modern fashion – possibly the greatest. He is Christian Dior, and his name goes to many ears without a need of introduction. In his early days as a boy in Granville, through the influence of mother, beauty and gardens around him, Dior ascended to the fashion world mostly as a dreamer, contributing to the Paris fashion scene via such initial houses as Lucien Lelong, and culminating into this own iconic brand. He did not sew, nor did he really need to. He isn’t even considered by fashion historians to be among the most talented of his genre – his circumstance of being in the right place at the right time with the right people contributed to a perfect storm that simply couldn’t fail.

This post isn’t a biography lesson on Dior – you can get that here – it is however, a deconstruction of one of the most enchanting museum exhibits I have ever seen in my life (including the 2010 Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective in Paris). I missed the YSL mini in Richmond, VA…but it didn’t matter with Sandra Stilwell’s mind-blowing tribute to the era in miniature…and her exceptional reproductions

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Sue Connor’s Dior Boutique Backdrop with Sandra Stilwell Presents’ miniature Dior couture…

The biggest difference from YSL to Dior in Paris?  One was allowed to take photographs (well…mostly allowed).

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There’s little wonder why Dior is my favorite…and why I have attempted to replicate his work in miniature…it is the most incredible learning process and journey through the art of hand sewing, layering, structure and design. And as such…here are some of my favorite Tommydoll flirtations with Dior and Dior-inspired design…


Christian Dior led his couture house for only ten short years before his sudden death. What would follow, however, is a string of amazing artists…each honoring Dior, but adding his or her own touch to the artist’s garden of fashion.

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This exhibit ushers in a ray of hope that beauty has not died, and talent reigns supreme in the hands of visionary creatives we admire near and far. For therein lie the humanity of creation…and the art of enjoyable beauty.

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As you enter the Musée des Arts Décoratifs at the Louvre, you can instantly tell there is a special dream awaiting you in the rooms to follow.

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Larger than life digital and literal recreations of the Dior Couture House open its doors and beckon you to enter. Everywhere – you are surrounded by crowds of admirers; yes, even those that don’t  bathe frequently – and it is quite warm in this October Parisian evening. That being said, it is amazing how the exhibition surrounds you instantly with Dior’s inspirations from paintings and sculpture to soft light and sounds of both classical and modern musical  styles.

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No, dears…those are MY feet…clever, no?

There is an introduction to the man and his house. We see his pointing wand where he would observe from a distance and guide your eye to the area of his critique.

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We are led into a dark chamber with faded light and protected treasures – this is Queen Elizabeth’s personal collection of Dior fashions – quite extraordinary (and somewhat scandalous) for English royalty to frequent a French business for its finery. No images were allowed here and I didn’t know that until I was sharply admonished by security – but I did manage a few snaps, thank you very much (What? It never stopped you cretins at doll shows where we had ‘No Photos’ signs posted – so there.)


We then walk into an area that pairs famous artworks with Dior creations (from all periods of the house’s history). The exhibit’s lighting design is at its best here, casting shadows against the walls that are as artful as the subjects, themselves.


Perhaps one of the most impressive portions of the show was realized as you are guided through sinewy vignettes sorted by color – a rainbow of fashion in both human scale, and  any pieces from the diminutive and charming Le Petit Théâtre Dior – each one  perfectly finished, and just as masterful as its larger parent.

Black, white, houndstooth – is it all a dream? No. it’s Dior.

The collections invoke Dior’s intelligence as a marketing genius – all seen in not only clothes, but accessories and fragrances, illustrations by René Gruau, licensed goods and  all the hallmarks of a growing fashion empire.

 

Ahhh…a miniature of Charlize Theron’s J’adore Hollywood tribute ad gown

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Sue me.

As the colors change…we are reminded of the fantastic details in the clothing, the sublime matching of seams and patterns, the hand work and invisible stitches that make many of the work appear virtually effortless.


Coco Chanel hated Dior…she felt designers like he and Balenciaga did not design for women, but for men’s eyes – and that they ‘upholstered‘ women in constrictive cages, daring to call it ‘fashionable‘. Whatever your views are on women’s liberation, perhaps it is not best represented in 1950s fashion – be that as it may – it is nonetheless, spectacular to behold…via anyone’s eyes.

All of these images were taken with my iPad…and although I am very pleased with most of them – there are some in the extremely low-lit areas that resulted in blurry captures. I could have taken the Nikon…but without a tripod, I’m afraid the quality wouldn’t have changed.

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Departure from these areas walks you past decades of the magazine covers featuring Dior and his successors’ work.


As with the opening of the exhibit, we are treated to mini-collections of themed displays that are driven by the influences of history and world culture on the collections. Each is contrasted with originals from Dior’s reign…and those of the unique artists to follow – Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Bill Gaytten, Raf  Simons,

and today’s first female head of Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri of Valentino fame (who is utterly fabulous, Puddings).

We also see the history of Dior’s perfumes among the themed displays…strange there is no influential scent to pipe into the museum’s air that would have reminded us we were in Dior’s garden.

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Exiting this portion of the exhibit, one might think it’s over…but a simple passage into a new space tells me it is anything but.

The ‘Bar’ Suit – the ambassador of Dior’s inaugural ‘Corolle’ Collection (later coined ‘New  Look‘ by the American Press) – and a fine example of what Dior was accomplishing as France wearily walked away from WWII, and emerged a liberated nation of new ideas – and luxuries. Dior’s New Look returned fashion to its rightful capital, and showered women with yards and yards of silks and woolens, once rationed heavily during wartime. It was a time to indulge again…and Dior rose to the occasion.

We are now shown each of Dior’s successors and iconic contributions from his and her visions. Sadly, Bill Gaytten (who worked under Galliano) isn’t featured…or if he was, I certainly didn’t notice.

Oops…a photograph I wasn’t supposed to take…it’s OK, I blamed the woman next to me who was taking flash photographs…you really have to think fast with this level of security!

Despite what you may think about Galliano’s controversial end at Dior…his mini-collection is clearly, above and beyond, the most inspired – not only in terms of haute couture, but with modern takes on Dior’s vision. Many feel YSL was the second greatest next to Dior, himself – but I disagree. I feel YSL‘s work was worthy of his own label and direction, for the harsh transition between the 1950s and 1960s was best realized by Saint Laurent…but not as ‘Christian Dior’ couture. ‘Minimalism‘ is one of the last things I would ponder when it comes to Dior couture.

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Perhaps my favorite part of the entire exhibit was the Toile Room.

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Here, you can see many muslin toiles from the Atelier workers who transform vision into wearing apparel through means of draping and flat pattern mastery. In the toiles you can see how the design is built, supported and embellished. Galliano would sketch directly onto the toile to communicate embroidery and beadwork. Each toile is a masterpiece in and of itself. This is the room that brought me to tears.

As a transition from the Toile Room to the exhibit’s finale, we tour through the years from Dior to present…and although I wasn’t 100% certain what the purpose of this line-up was (who could read with the 300+ photos I was in the process of taking?

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I’ll read the book later)…it was impressive to see the lines, shapes and colors that possibly were most attributed to Dior’s legacy.


And before I get to the finale, I was disappointed that my two favorite gowns from Dior, Compiègne and that mammoth black ‘Marie Antoinette’ gown by Galliano, were not present.

Oh well…there are some dramas I just have to let go, right?

The final chamber was easily some 3-4 stories tall and was digitally enhanced with animation, lighting, music and mood. The show repeats app. Every 20 minutes…with a shower of gold glitter, to line-by-line animation of the architectural elements, to changing seasons and celebrities on the red carpet. It is pure joy…and I start to cry again – I’m so very moved by the beauty I have had the most honored pleasure of seeing in person.

This, my Puddings…is dedicated to you…the faithful lovers of fashion. I love you dearly…and the haters can kindly fuck off

J’adore Dior. If you’d like to see a complete collection of the images – this is a Facebook public folder…you do not need to be a member of Facebook, and even if you are, you do not need to be signed in to view this public folder – click here – Enjoy!

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Now THAT’S a stiff one!

Deep in every heart slumbers a dream
Christian Dior

29 thoughts on “J’adore Dior

  1. This is the most intoxicating array of images I can imagine…oh, Mr Courtney…I am so glad you got to go there, and document these beauties…everywhere you looked, magic. But. Crafted by real human hands, so, even better, just the illusion of magic, whereas magic is the illusion of reality; so, such an exhibit is its very opposite. (Meaning: no smoke and mirrors, cheap effects, distractions. No cheating here, no shortcuts, but the real thing: incredible painstaking time-consuming human-suffering craftmanship…fully eye-rewarded suffering for an incredible body of work from this house.) Yes, proof that human beings can create astonishing things (and I’d like to see someone credit aliens from outer space for this accomplishment, as they do for so many other human accomplishments of a high order! It may seem like a crazy digression on my part, but you know it isn’t. Not nowadays. Some people don’t even think humans created the Antikythera)! Thanks so much, again. When I see something of this high an order, it cheers me up about being human

  2. Totally jealous, I would love to see this exhibition. I have seen the smaller, cut down version in the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne recently, and even though it is fabulous, it is nothing like this. My dolls adore Dior, and I love the challenge of copying even vaguely one of these fabulous designs for a doll. Having said that, I can’t help but agree with Chanel on some things, and had I been born earlier and had squillions to spend on clothes, as a person I would choose Chanel, not Dior, if that makes sense.

  3. I’m sorry but why are you so salty and condescending? Still bitter over Robert screwing you, literally and figuratively? You are, admittedly, white trash, pudding. You wish you had a fifth of the talent of the KD ladies and you only shit on them because they’re women- you misogynistic, self-hating, alcoholic, mentally ill fuck. Also, no one ripped off Leigh Slaughter’s craptastic, amateur version of the j’adore necklace. Are you that blind and foolish? Seriously…you don’t know what you speak of, and you look foolish. Sad that you turn beauty, like the Dior exhibit, into ugly bullshit because your shoddy designs failed for the Kinsman and now you hate KD…like Tonner…and Integrity…and Madame Alexander. Oh and Sybarites. Do you see the pattern here, Dear? Go to a meeting and kindly stfu, pudding. No no, that’s all. I’m sure you won’t dare post this, but at least you’ll read it and know.

      • I wasn’t trying to hurt your feelings, dear. If that was my intent, I’d make an effort. I was merely stating facts. This Leigh fellow is a hack for the real scumbag, Paul Pham. He had his convention (red solo cups, boxed wine, and chips in his studio, classy!), and then announced his next convention, and didn’t have product ready and people are still waiting for shit they should have got a month ago. But you don’t drag him, do you sweetheart? If you have so much animosity about Kingdom Doll, show your evidence. Because they surely have a different take on the facts than you. Otherwise, just shut the fuck up because you sound like a miserable, misogynistic, old queen. Dear.

      • I’ve heard all of this before. I’ve given you a voice…so have at it. I have my interviews, I have my evidence…and I’ve shown it to people who still matter. I don’t really care what they did to others, but I still know it to be true. I do, however, know what they did to me. I don’t owe them, you or any of the people who frequent their business anything. So go ahead with your name-calling…hide behind a fake name…you have no power here…it all just shows it’s probably Alex or one of her trolls. But I would guess that kinda validates me, then…

    • To mizztexasblog, First, let’s have your real name. Stand behind your comments, please. You obviously were not at Paul Pham’s event, because there was no boxed wine or “chips” served. Get your facts straight instead of making stuff up.

      His studio was only a small part of a great weekend held at multiple venues. His studio is a working art studio, so it is what it is, and he wants collectors to see his designs in progress in person. What exactly does the fact that the factory that Paul Pham uses was late producing event clothing have to do with the event as a whole? That is something he had no control over. I believe much of what is said here on this blog is about original design. A factory shipping clothing late has nothing to do with the design. Paul is one of very few fashion doll artists who sculpts his own dolls, and designs the clothing himself as well. A solo artist who works on every aspect of his dolls himself. I am amazed at how nasty the fashion doll collecting community has become. Go ahead and like what you like and let others like what they like. I usually stay out of this kind of thing, but had to comment when I saw an unnamed person throwing insults around using incorrect information.

      • Hear, hear…thank you, Beth. Paul is a real artist, and you are a real fan. It makes no difference to argue to a fake defender of a fake doll company with fake designers possessing fake talent. The style of speech implies this troll is defending oneself and not a doll maker. I know the truth…it’s readily available on the internet, through the testimonies of countless people. Admitting fault is hard, especially when it comes at the expense of your own ego…and thousands of dollars pissed away in support of people some ‘thought’ they knew. But…naturally, WE’RE all wrong. Well at least we have taste, style, courage…and community. I’ll happily let someone have voice on my blog to dissent…because I do know the truth. Thanks again, Beth…beautifully stated.

    • Well, well!

      You have an opinion, not but no facts here.

      Your opinion is that I am a hack, which is VERY amusing. Admittedly I am not a fine Jeweler (ie. silver/goldsmith). But I have been beading for more than 20 years.

      Lepidoptera

      I would check out those photos, there is a sufficient body of work to illustrate my credentials when it comes to beading.

      While everyone always assumes that I am Paul Pham’s puppet, I assure you, I do whatever the fuck I want. Dragging Paul, a business owner, who has his own brand to worry about into this conversation is a weak minded deflection away from the fact that Alex and Amanda are thieves.

      It isn’t a secret that Paul Pham refuses to condone stealing artists work, his integrity, educational experience, and his professional background reinforce those values.

      I posted what I did because I had collectors emailing me asking why I changed my stance on Kingdom Doll when they saw that necklace and assumed, because the similarities to my own work, that I made those necklaces.

      The stitch pattern that I use in my work was a variation on a lesser used beading technique. I came up with the variation, I have seen a few artists do similar style pieces, using chain as spacer bars, or sewing the beads to pieces of boning, or even sewing the entire piece to nude mesh below.

      This was a deliberate copy. Which is what I object to.

      But those thieves will steal ANYTHING from ANYBODY.

      Denigrating Paul for my post is childish and petty, but I don’t really expect much better from Kingdom Doll, or their shit stains.

      I beg you please respond, I need the laugh!

      R. Leigh Slaughter

      • Thank you for chiming in Leigh…some people just can’t get their facts straight – that’s why I have a comments section. Thanks again…

  4. Arrrr there be some bullyin’ whackjobs out there sailing the seas of dolldom, Mr. Courtney…the Internet do be providin’ some nice caves for passive-aggressive headcases to hide in…some day the tide will come in to their caves and wash ’em all away…leaving only some ugly barnacles behind.

    • Funny. I was called a ‘passive-aggressive’.
      Yes, I have lots of anger. Fine, I admit it. Spending time over my ability to encounter anger… priceless.
      Also funny one who can’t understand normal thinking (thank you, Andrew)…

      • Passive-aggressive thinking and emoting is, to some extent, part of the human nature of complex human beings. We all have some of that. But if, after reflecting on all this, you decide to name names, be straightforward about what pisses you off, and cite examples from your history, then you are really being brave—not passive. Agreeing to take what comes. Being brave especially when bullies don’t succeed in getting you to back off, when they badly want you to back off.

        So now you are living the examined life: Which things did you cause, and which things were violations caused by others? These are big things to deal with and sort out.

        Mr. Courtney, I am sure you have anger, and you have given it names. Real names. Some you speak out loud and some you keep to yourself. I think it must have taken you years to come to this point. It’s scary stuff.

        The germ of it for me, always, when dealing with bullies like the one above: Whatever disturbs you, it is yours, and if someone else tries to convince you it does not exist, or that it didn’t happen the way you know it did because you were part of it—well, that’s just bullying horseshit. They don’t own the contents of your head.

        I mean, all this shit and the intoxication of a trip to Paris too. Whoa. What’s next—Donald Trump for President?

        Oh, wait.

      • I guess I don’t understand this…but I embrace it. I was a shitty person in many periods of my doll career. We have all work solutions out that made us better people. I stand with that…and when I fucked with you, I sincerely apologize.

      • Just take care of yourself and do what’s right to keep yourself together. And don’t worry about any of the little shit right now. Just keep being TommyDoll, please! Your taste and vision and attitude matter. I have no troubles…just hope you can get some sleep after your whirlwind trip. (If my sleep is fucked with, I start fights with the people who EMPLOY me…and that is bad news indeed…and I still need them to send me work. I’m glad I quit drinking years ago…or I would be worse than I am.)

My blog is satire, but your thoughts are welcome!

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