Installation view of the world-premiere exhibition The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute
Couture at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
Seventy years of fashion, 1000 partygoers, one world-exclusive event: the never-before-seen House of Dior exhibition has arrived in Melbourne.
By Deborah Dickson-Smith
Published: 28 August, 2017
Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) has officially opened its doors to the world premiere of a new exhibition, The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture – and you can come and see it for yourself.
The prestigious art gallery, the oldest and most visited in Australia, unveiled the exclusive exhibition last Saturday night with a glittering, star-studded, black-tie event intended to rival New York’s Met Gala. The inaugural NGV Gala featured a guest list of Australian celebrities, including Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman, and is set to become Melbourne’s premier annual fundraising event.
Even if you didn’t score an invite to the fashionable event, you can see the exhibition for yourself between now and 7 November. It’s on display at the National Gallery of Victoria, and entry is free if you become an NGV member.
Dior comes to Australia
Dior has a long-standing connection with Australia – it was in Sydney, at luxury Australian department store David Jones, that the French fashion house unveiled its first representative Dior collection outside of Paris in the spring of 1948. The new exhibition pays tribute to Dior’s Australian connection, including its relationship with principal partner David Jones, with more than 140 garments from Christian Dior Couture designed between 1947 and 2017, including Dior’s iconic “New Look” collection, as well as a selection of magnificent ball gowns and evening dresses.
Other highlights include Australian model, Miranda Kerr’s Dior wedding dress, the Fête au Village evening dress, a 1955 creation that incorporates both the New Look and Flower design codes, and the 2012 Raf Simons-designed “Look 10” Bar Coat. There is also a section dedicated to Dior’s fabulous accessories, particularly shoes and millinery, with a special section highlighting 50 original creations by Dior milliner Stephen Jones.
According to NGV Director Tony Ellwood, “The exhibition is a celebration of Dior’s most landmark moments and designs, including their iconic New Look silhouette, which revolutionised women’s fashion in the 1950s, through to the present-day contemporary aesthetic.”
Australia’s biggest party
If you happened to be in Melbourne over the weekend, you might have also caught a glimpse of another spectacle: the launch event. Australia’s most fashionable walked the David Jones red carpet from 8pm for the NGV Gala, which included a lavish Gala Dinner for 300 followed by a party for 1000. In attendance was Nicole Kidman, who wore a gown from Dior’s new collection designed by the House’s first female head designer, Maria Grazia Chiuri. Other stars included Elizabeth Olsen – sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley – and several local celebrities including models Jessica Gomes and Jesinta Campbell, and Vogue Australia editor-in-chief Edwina McCann, co-chair of the event.
Guests were served canapés prepared by internationally acclaimed Australian chef James Henry, accompanied by wines from Victoria’s Yarra Valley winemaker Yering Station. Bespoke cocktails, from by award-winning Melbourne distillers Starward were served in the Whisky Lounge and each guest went home with an exclusive gift to commemorate the occasion. Grammy Award-winner Kimbra provided the entertainment before a DJ set by Australian electronic dance music duo Yolanda Be Cool.
NGV Programs and Friday Nights
A series of interactive public programs are to be held at the NGV over the course of the exhibition, including floor talks and after-hours events. At NGV Friday Nights, held every Friday night between 1 September and 4 November, guests can enjoy after-hours access, with food and drinks and an opportunity to party on. There will be live performances by international and Australian performers including Japanese pop-rock outfit Shonen Knife, LA-based R&B musician Nite Jewel and Australian singer-songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke.
On Saturday 7 October, for one night only, the exhibition will also be opened up to teens, with an event designed especially for ages 13-17 called Art Party: The House of Dior and Hokusai. The innovative event is designed to inspire teens with art workshops, dance performances and a live DJ in the Great Hall. Floor talks at the exhibition include presentations by milliner Stephen Jones and former Dior house model Svetlana Lloyd, as well as perspectives by NGV curators.
During the first and last weeks of the exhibition, the NGV will also host artisans from the Dior atelier in Paris, who will be working on couture garments in the exhibition space, demonstrating the extraordinary technical skills of Christian Dior Couture.
Founded in 1861, The National Gallery of Victoria is an epicentre of Australian art with a collection that includes masterpieces by artists such as Picasso, Warhol, Rembrandt and Monet. It’s renowned for world-premiere exhibitions, which have recently featured Andy Warhol, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, Jean Paul Gaultier and English pop artist David Hockney.
Right now, you’ll find more than Dior on show at the NGV. Also worth checking out is Japanese master Hokusai (until 15 October), Jim Dine: A Life in Print, (until 15 October) and Federation, a newly commissioned floor painting by Taiwanese artist Michael Lin, hand-painted in collaboration with local Melbourne artists (until November).
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