The windows of Harrods have been taken over by Raf Simon’s SS12 collection for Dior. His debut collection for the brand is seen on mannequins posing in telephone boxes, under soft grey flags and awnings. This external display is a precursor to a fabulous exhibition of Dior couture on the fourth floor of the world famous department store.
We are greeted by a reconstruction of 30 avenue Montaigne before being guided through a taste of parisian couture in central London. The actual staging of the exhibition is almost identical to last year’s Louis Vuitton at Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris and is beautifully done. On display are dresses which have been worn by everyone from Natalie Portman to Audrey Hepburn. We are shown ‘toiles’, a kind of mock up of haute couture designs from the original designs of Christian Dior, John Galliano and Raf Simons which are accompanied by Dior’s original sketches. Also on show is a beautiful fashion theatre which comprises of miniature versions of couture gowns throughout the decades in their original fabrics.
Also on show is a golden shrine to one of fashions most well known fragrances: J’Adore. A room full of perfume bottles and the dress worn by Charlize Theron are given their own place in the show. Next door, there is even an adjoining cafe which serves Dior afternoon tea which includes favourites of the original designer.
Where the show excels is in its presentation of the label’s relationship with Britain. We are given an explanation of the creation of the Dior London label in 1952 and the opening of a Dior room at Harrods in 1953 in honour of Christian Dior’s favourite department store. The designer held shows at Blenheim Palace and even showed his collections privately to Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret, who chose to wear Dior for her 21st birthday portrait.
For any fashion addict this show simply cannot be missed. In the perfect location and overflowing with grace, elegance and history it is a 2013 must see.
Dior is occupying Harrods until 16 April