A Lavish Look at Christian Dior’s Legacy and The Art That Inspired It.

inspiration dior exhibit
above: Dior’s Suzurka-San Coat, 2007 and the inspiration, Hokusai’s The Great Wave off the Coast of Kanagawa, 1848

Moscow’s Pushkin Museum presents Inspiration Dior, a comprehensive exhibit of Christian Dior’s breathtaking fashions and the art that played a role in inspiring them.

Inspiration Dior exhibit

Dior’s “Linda Vojtova”,2007-8, inspired by the Goya painting below
above: the Goya painting which inspired Dior’s “Linda Vojtova”

“The best way to describe this exhibit is with Christian Dior’s own words: ‘The history of Parisian fashion is not a vanity fair, but a representation of culture,'” said veteran Pushkin Museum director Irina Antonova.

vintage dior
Dior’s Forcement short trench coat, 1991, inspired by the drawing below  
A drawing of Dior’s Bar Suit by Christian Berard, 1947 which inspired Dior’s Forcement short trench coat

The exhibit features the jewelry, the perfumes and of course, the pieces of Dior as well as many paintings that influenced the designs and styles. Nine rooms in the museum showcase Dior fashions from 18th century-influenced designs to images of today’s celebrities donning his gowns. The exhibit has been grouped into the following categories; New Look, Lines and Bodies, Dior and the Eighteenth century, Bell Epoque, Dior Balls, The Gardens of Dior, Dior: Gold and Gold, Dior Around The World, Fine Jewellery, The Atelier or Art of Haute Couture, The Magic of Dior Perfumes and Stars in Dior .

above left: Dior’s “Koh-I-Noor Dress”, 1996-97; above right: John Singer Sargent’s La Camencita, 1900
above left: Dior’s Black and White silk faille coat, 2002; above right: Varvara Fiodorovna Stepanova’s Casual Dress design, 1923-24

Paintings by Klimt, Renoir, Sargent, van Gogh and others that nourished Dior’s inspiration are on loan from the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, the Versaille Museum and Moscow’s Tretyakov gallery.

Many of the Dior dresses on exhibit:
Vintage dior gown

Some of the accompanying pieces of art:

Portrait of Madame Rimsky-Korsakov by Varvara Dmitrievna Mergassov
Portrait of Madame Rimsky-Korsakov by Varvara Dmitrievna Mergassov
Portrait of Marie Antoinette by Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun
Portrait of Marie Antoinette by Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun
Madame Charles Max by Giovanni Boldini
Madame Charles Max by Giovanni Boldini
In the Garden, under the Trees of the Moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
In the Garden, under the Trees of the Moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Woman with Rake by Kasmir Malevich
Woman with Rake by Kasmir Malevich
painting, artist unknown
floral photo, artist unknown

Text about the exhibit from the museum:

February 12th, 1947: Christian Dior presents his first collection at Avenue Montaigne. The revolution is underway and the New Look is born. With it, The House of Dior enters the world of legend.

Unknown until that moment, the genius designer who revered the French way of life entered a triumphant decade, providing women with regal bearing and a sublime look. Skirts were longer, shoulders were softened and waists were cinched. A Dior flower-women blossomed in the post-war era, and outrageously splendid, was soon to conquer the world with infinite grace.

New and highly innovative, the exhibition demonstrates how inspiration has nourished the heart of Dior for decades. This amazing journey guides the visitor through the Dior artistic creative sources of fashion and its links to history, nature, painting, sculpture, drawing, photography and film. It reveals now an idea, a feeling, an era, a garden, a perception or even a smell can instill an idea in the heart and mind, giving rise to a unique creation.

In this major exhibition, the Pushkin Museum showcases Dior magic and luxury whilst emphasizing the outstanding House’s links with art.

The key themes of the Dior legend – past and present on a grand scale in original fashion, set against unique works of art. It is a journey of corresponding elements and magical synergies, where the New Look is echoed in works by Picasso, Modigliani, Renoir, Cezanne or even Gauguin. Nudes by Vanessa Beecroft, Maurizio Cattelan and Orlan emphasise the gloriously modern lines of the female body, accentuated by Christian Dior.

This waltz through time enchants the visitor with lush gardens and recollections of the 18th century and the Belle Époque. Marie-Antoinette meets Jeff Koons, Bonnard’s landscapes celebrate Dior’s flower-women and the Egyptian goddesses from spring summer 2004 establish a radiant, golden destiny.

The Dior grand balls are also celebrated in all their glory in an enchanted setting where Ingres’ aristocrats admire breathtaking crinolines and haute couture gowns. The visitor is then transported around the world with Dior via Goya’s Spain, Matisse’s heady orient and of course, Russia and Asia.

The world of Dior beauty also provides the opportunity to view René Gruau’s strikingly modern illustrations and allows the Russian plastic artist, Olga Kisseleva to create an installation exploring the sensual and sensory universe of Dior perfumes.

A mirror effect of deliberate similarities lays down the framework of this exceptional exhibition, in which the quest for ideal beauty creates the link between Christian Dior, genius couturier, and the impressive and unexpected gallery of great masters.

As monsieur Dior said: “Finally everything that has been part of my life – whether I wanted it or not – has expressed itself in my dresses”.

inspiration dior

“Inspiration Dior” runs until July 24 at The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.