This weekend, Dior: The Legendary Images opens at Granville's Musée Dior, a stunning belle époque-style clifftop house where Christian Dior lived as a child. “The museum is the only one in France to be devoted to a Haute Couture house,” explains curator Florence Muller, “It is the story of Dior and his successors.” From Dior’s 1951 couture collection photographed by Cecil Beaton to Dovima poised between two elephants by Richard Avedon in 1955, the exhibition captures Dior’s relationship with some of the world’s greatest fashion photographers, from the birth of the New Look in 1947 to Raf Simon’s takeover of the house in 2012. It includes work by Guy Bourdin, Willy Vanderperre and Paolo Roversi amongst many others, dating back to Pat English’s photographs of Christian Dior’s first fashion show in 1947. Here, AnOther speaks to Muller about the exhibition.
When did the idea for the exhibition first arise?
The idea first arose some years ago when the museum began a series of exhibitions exploring the connection between art and Christian Dior. We first presented 'Dior, Le Bal des Artistes' revealing the affiliations between Christian Dior and artists. This started very early in his life when he become director of an art gallery. He was putting on shows for famous painters such as Picasso or Miro but also for younger artists of his generation like Salvador Dali or Alberto Giacometti. Then we organised an exhibition focusing on the relationships between Dior and the cinema entitled 'Stars in Dior', followed last year by 'Dior Impressions' a show delving into the inspiration in Dior’s style taken from the Impressionist movement. The current exhibition, 'Dior: The Legendary Images' captures the dialogue between famous photographers and Dior’s creations.
"They are absolute masterpieces, representing the glamour of the period" — Florence Muller
What are some of your favourite images and stories within the exhibition?
In the first room there is the iconic image by Richard Avedon called Dovima with Elephants. It is the original print signed by the photographer himself, who gave it to the young Yves Saint Laurent. We have several original prints by Irving Penn, Horst, Louise Dahl-Wolfe, Henry Clarke, Cliffor Coffin that are absolute masterpieces, representing the glamour of the period. I adore the portrait by Robert Doisneau of the famous model Victoire… I love a series of very rare original prints taken by the American photographer Serge Balkin of the first Christian Dior spring-summer collection in 1947, published in Vogue. There are great images by Guy Bourdin, Helmut Newton, Peter Knapp, Jean Loup Sieff and more. I also love the recent pictures taken by Willy Vanderperre in the Opera house in Paris.
Text by Mhairi Graham