November 25, 2017 to March 18, 2018
The end of a war. The start of a fashion revolution.
Explore the brilliance behind Christian Dior’s dramatic creations that revived the Paris haute couture industry after the devastation of the Second World War in ROM’s original exhibition, Christian Dior, presented by Holt Renfrew. Senior Curator, Dr. Alexandra Palmer, draws from the ROM’s extensive collection from the first ten years of Christian Dior haute couture, 1947 to 1957, to offer captivating insights into the creative process and mechanics of the fashion industry in Paris during a pivotal time.
Celebrating the House of Christian Dior’s 70th anniversary, Christian Dior features a selection of breathtaking designs from daytime to evening wear for grand occasions, and explores how and why Christian Dior’s iconic lines, luxury textiles, and romantic embroideries laid the foundation for the global success of the fashion house.
Free for ROM Members
“The world is wonderfully full of beautiful women whose shapes and tastes offer an inexhaustible diversity. My collection must cater to each one of them.”
- Christian Dior, 1956
seasonal collections per year designed by Christian Dior, Paris
collections designed by Christian Dior in 10 years
new designs included in each Christian Dior haute couture collection
approximate hours of work in each Christian Dior haute couture collection
Go beyond the exhibition with this engaging series of lectures and events that explore the ground-breaking work of one of fashion’s greatest couture houses.
Behind the Scenes
Over the past year, Senior Curator Dr. Alexandra Palmer, Assistant Curator Dr. Monique Johnson and the team of conservators, technicians, and preparators have been preparing for the Royal Ontario Museum’s original exhibition Christian Dior.
The ROM’s significant collection of textiles and fashions is the largest in Canada, and ranks amongst the top three collections in the world. Comprising over 55,000 pieces, the collection is global and cross-cultural, ranging from BCE to the present, with spectacular examples from across the continents. For the past 100 years, this encyclopaedic collection has been recognized as one of the world’s finest, a reputation strengthened by pioneering ROM research, exhibitions, and publications.
About Christian Dior
Christian Dior sketching one of the designs for his next collection. La Ligne Ciseaux. Film by Henri Lavorel. All rights reserved.
Born in 1905 in Granville, France, Christian Dior began his career in Paris as a freelance designer and sketch artist selling fashion illustrations to magazines in 1935. His first job in an haute couture house was in 1938 when Robert Piguet hired him as modéliste.
In 1941, Christian Dior joined the house of Lucien Lelong as assistant designer. In 1946, he set up his own couture house with backing from Marcel Boussac. On February 12, 1947, he presented his first collection showcasing his designs that became the “New Look.” The soft shoulders, cinched-in waist, accentuated hips and long, full fluid skirts of Christian Dior’s masterful cuts swept away the wartime masculine silhouette and launched a fashion revolution.
“All around us, life was beginning anew; it was time for a new trend for fashion.”
- Christian Dior, 1956
A Timeline of the House of Christian Dior, 1947 - 1957
The House of Christian Dior, underwritten by French textile industrialist Marcel Boussac, presents its first collection on February 12, 1947.
Carmel Snow, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar, famously describes it as the “New Look.”
La Ligne Ciseaux. Film by Henri Lavorel. All rights reserved.
Christian Dior receives Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, France’s highest national award.
Holt Renfrew & Co. Ltd. signs licence for Canada, including rights to sell Paris and New York collections and all House of Christian Dior products, as well as rights to make reproductions in Montreal workrooms.
Only 6 years after opening, the House of Christian Dior is worth $15 million and accounts for 5% of French exports.
Christian Dior has a fatal heart attack at Montecatini, Italy on October 24, 1957.
Yves Saint Laurent is named artistic director and the House of Christian Dior legacy continues today.
Learn more about the history of the House of Christian Dior.
Photos, from top to bottom:
1) © William Klein.
2) Name: Auteuil, Line: Spring-Summer 1949; Occasion: Two-piece day suit; Textiles: Linen tabby, rayon velvet; Accession #: ROM2014.62.54.1-2 ; Donor: Gift of Katherine Cleaver from the Cleaver-Suddon Collection. Photograph by Laziz Hamani.
3) Name: Caracas; Line: Libre Spring-Summer 1957; Occasion: Late afternoon dress; Atelier flou: Christiane; Mannequin: Lucky; Textile: Aléoutienne silk (silk warp, dupion silk weft) by Staron; Accession #: 2013.73.13; Donor: Gift of David Lepofsky from the Joan Lepofsky Collection. Photograph by Laziz Hamani.
4) Name: Palmyre; Line: Profilée Autumn-Winter 1952; Occasion: Evening gown. Atelier flou: Simone; Mannequin: Alla; Textiles: Celanese acetate satin by Robert Perrier, 35 various materials—3 silver threads, beads, Swarovski crystals, embroidery by Ginisty et Quénolle; Accession #: 970.286.3; Donor: Gift of Mrs. M. James Boylen. Photograph by Laziz Hamani.
5) Name: Delphine; Line: Aimant Autumn-Winter 1956; Occasion: Cocktail Dress; Atelier Flou: Hélène; Mannequin: Lia; Textiles: Silk gros de tours, silk faille; Accession #: 961.87.3; Donor: Gift of Mrs. Harry Davidson. Photograph by Laziz Hamani.
6) Name: Isabelle; Line: Envol Spring-Summer 1948; Occasion: Formal evening dress; Atelier flou: Monique; Mannequin: Patricia; Textiles: Silk pékin by Flachard, silk satin sash; Accession #: 961.136.1; Donor: Gift of Mrs. David Meltzer. © Royal Ontario Museum.
The Royal Ontario Museum would like to thank the following lenders: Dior Heritage Collection, Paris; Christian Dior Parfums, Paris; Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto; Maison Hurel, Paris; Musée d’Art et d’Industrie, Saint-Etienne (France); Musée du Pays rabastinois, Rabastens (France); Langlois-Martin, Paris; Private Collection of Carole Tanenbaum; Ms. Gisela Wiegert; Peter David Levitt; Private collection, Berlin; and Holt Renfrew & Co. Limited.