The exhibition opens with perhaps the best known of Dior's creations: the Bar Suit from his first collection (the 'New Look').
|Bar suit, 1947|
'The Dior Line' looks at the different lines created by Dior and his successors.
|Barnabé suit, Milieu du siècle line, autumn/winter 1949|
In keeping with the 'line' theme, each outfit is displayed in a mirrored booth with lighting round the edges, which creates striking reflections.
|Reflections around the Ulysse coat, Profilée line, autumn/winter 1952|
'Dior in Britain' includes this dress made specially for the 21st birthday of Princess Margaret in 1951, embellished with mother of pearl, sequins, and with straw emboidery.
|Fit for a princess - silk organza and straw|
Just how slim the princess was becomes apparent round the back of the exhibit - the mannequin is slightly too large for the dress.
|Showing the gap at the waist|
I wasn't sure why these particular dresses are displayed in this section - if an explanation is provided then I missed it. They are all from the collections of the V&A and the Fashion Museum in Bath, and I assume that they were all owned by British women.
|Dior dresses and ensembles, 1947-57|
All is light and airy and pastel-hued in 'Historicism'.
|Historical inspiration from various eras|
|Centre dress is 'Bonne Nuit' from spring/summer 1954|
|Dresses by John Galliano and Raf Simons|
I must admit I had some problems with 'Travels'. There is a fine line between 'inspiration' and 'cultural appropriation', and personally I felt that some of the items on show tended towards the latter.
|The two white dresses on the right have Mexican inspiration|
|Two looks inspired by Japan|
'Designers for Dior' looks at the men, and now woman, who have filled the role of Creative Director since Dior's death in 1957. I loved the Saint Laurent hat, it is so reminiscent of several of the hat blocks in Hat Works.
|Yves Saint Laurent, 1957-60|
I must admit that my eye was drawn to the puckered hem on the pink dress, proving that even couture has its off days!
|Marc Bohan, 1960-89|
|John Galliano, 1996-2011|
This emboidered coat based on tarot cards was one of my favourite pieces in the exhibition.
|Maria Grazia Chiuri, since 2016|
After this section comes the wonderfully named 'Diorama'; a long display of hats, shoes, accessories and mini-mannequins, shaded from white through pink, orange, yellow and green to blue.
|Scenes from the Diorama (apologies for the reflections)|
'The Ballroom', unsurprisingly, features evening clothes.
|Evening elegance in rosy pinks . . .|
|. . . and shimmering golds|
The green and white dress on the left below is 'Arlequin D'Eau Argentée' (Silvery Water Harlequin) by John Galliano, spring/summer 1998, while the blue and white dress on the right is 'Junon' (Juno) by Dior, autumn/winter 1949.
As might be apparent from the above photographs, the lighting in the room changes hue constantly, accenting and obscuring details on various dresses as it does so. The effect is most obvious on this plain white dress and coat, a 'création spéciale' for Rihanna.
|Maria Grazia Chiuri, 2017|
The final dress is also by Maria Grazia Chiuri, inspired by a 1950s Dior promotional fan. Called 'Fan of Your Chances', the pleated tulle echoes the pleated paper, and Dior's signature is embroidered across the skirt. The angled mirrors show the dress from all sides. Amazingly for such a popular exhibition, I managed to find a brief moment when there was almost no-one else around to appear in the reflections (and by standing directly in front of the exhibit I wasn't reflected at all).
|'Éventail de Vos Hasards', Maria Grazia Chiuri, spring/summer 2018|