Daney Parker reviews the Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition at the V&A

Dior exhibition
If you love fashion and want to get your daily steps up, you must get to see the Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition at the V&A, which goes on, and on, and on. So pace yourself, it is not for the faint-hearted.  

If you are a design purest, you may want to linger in the early rooms which showcase the works of the great man Christian Dior himself, with what now seem like classically elegant dresses and suits, but which were ground-breaking at the time of their launch over 70 years ago. These are the rooms where I saw the clothes I was expecting the see, the clothes I had come to see. Beautiful, debonair dresses, perfectly tailored with nipped-in waists.  

New look
The reason they were so shocking at the time was due to the extravagance of fabric that was used in the flowing skirts that fell to the floor, which seemed unnecessarily extravagant after the austerity of the war years. Plus. there was the question about whether such feminine dresses were trying to reposition women as decorative flowers, undermining their strength and the new roles they had begun to carve out for themselves.  

Later designers
Moving on, you see the work of each of the six creative directors that have represented the house after Christian Dior, from Yves Saint Laurent to Maria Grazia Chiuri. For me, the most shocking designs, and not in a good way, were from John Galliano. I was not upset by them, at least not consciously, because of his fall from grace after his anti-Semitic rant (which, by the way, is never mentioned in the exhibition). I was upset by them because I just didn’t like how unflattering many of them were, they seemed unwearable to me.  

Shock tactics
My son, on the other hand, who is a fashion and marketing student, loves John Galliano’s designs, and despite not endorsing his rant, applauds his creativity. He describes what I considered one of the most hideous dresses (an extremely wide-hipped dress that looked like a parody of something from the early 18th century) as ‘stunning’ whilst the white, simple summer dress with shoulder bows that I loved from Christian Dior, he called ‘clapped’.  

So I am obviously a boring, old fart. But maybe when my son gets to my age, he might also prefer clothes that shout ‘taste!’ rather than just shout the loudest.