Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams

“There is no other country in the world, besides my own, whose way of life I like so much. I love English traditions, English politeness, English architecture. I even love English cooking.”
Christian Dior

 In February 2019, the V&A will open the largest and most comprehensive exhibition ever staged in the UK on the House of Dior – the museum’s biggest fashion exhibition since Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty in 2015. Spanning 1947 to the present day, Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams will trace the history and impact of one of the 20th century’s most influential couturiers, and the six artistic directors who have succeeded him, to explore the enduring influence of the fashion house. 

Christian Dior with model Sylvie, circa 1948. Courtesy of Christian Dior.

Based on the major exhibition Christian Dior: Couturier du Rêve, organised by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, the exhibition will be reimagined for the V&A. A brand-new section will, for the first time, explore the designer’s fascination with British culture. Dior admired the grandeur of the great houses and gardens of Britain, as well as British-designed ocean liners, including the Queen Mary. He also had a preference for Savile Row suits. In 1947, he hosted his first UK fashion show at London’s Savoy Hotel, and in 1952 established Christian Dior London.

Princess Margaret (left), with the Duchess of Marlborough behind, presents Christian Dior with a scroll entitling him to Honorary Life Membership of the British Red Cross
© Popperphoto, Getty Images

This exhibition will investigate Dior’s creative collaborations with influential British manufacturers, and his most notable British clients, from author Nancy Mitford to ballet dancer Margot Fonteyn. A highlight will be the Christian Dior dress worn by Princess Margaret for her 21st birthday celebrations, generously on loan from the Museum of London. It will also bring to life Dior’s spectacular fashion shows staged in the UK’s most luxurious stately homes, including Blenheim Palace in 1954. 

Left: Sketch by Christian Dior for model Londres, F/W 1950 Haute Couture collection.
Right: Sketch by Christian Dior for model Oxford, S/S 1947 Haute Couture collection.
© Christian Dior.

Drawn from the extensive Dior Archives, the exhibition will also showcase highlights from the V&A’s world-class Couture collections, including the iconic Bar Suit, gifted to the museum by the House of Dior in 1960. The exhibition will present over 500 objects, with over 200 rare Haute Couture garments shown alongside accessories, fashion photography, film, perfume, make-up, illustrations, magazines, and Christian Dior’s personal possessions. 

Diorling perfume, 1963. Photo © Laziz Hamani

The exhibition will highlight Dior’s vision of femininity, encompassing garments, accessories and fragrances. Flowers are emblematic of the Couture House and have inspired silhouettes, embroidery and prints but also the launch of Miss Dior in 1947, the first fragrance created alongside the very first show. 

Yves Saint Laurent in front of Christian Dior London, 11th November 1958.
© Popperfoto, Getty Images

From horticulture to global travel and 18th century decorative arts, the show will reveal the sources of inspiration that defined the House of Dior’s aesthetic. From the daring designs of Yves Saint Laurent to the rational style of Marc Bohan, the flamboyance of Gianfranco Ferré, the exuberance of John Galliano, the minimalism of Raf Simons, and Maria Grazia Chiuri’s feminist vision of fashion, the exhibition will show how each successive artistic director has stayed true to Dior’s vision of Haute Couture, while bringing their own creative sensibilities to the House. 

Soirée de décembre evening dress, F/W 1954 Haute Couture collection, H line. Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Gift of Dame Margot Fonteyn.
Photo © Laziz Hamani

Tim Reeve, Deputy Director and COO of the V&A, said: “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams celebrates one of the most ingenious and iconic designers in fashion history. Reimagining this hugely popular exhibition from Paris – as the largest fashion exhibition the V&A has undertaken since Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty – will shed new light on Dior’s fascination with Britain. The V&A holds one of the largest and most important fashion collections in the world, and we are delighted to be able to reveal highlights from our outstanding collection alongside those from the remarkable archive of the House of Dior, for this spectacular exhibition.” 

Oriole Cullen, Fashion and Textiles Curator at the V&A, said: “In 1947, Christian Dior changed the face of fashion with his ‘New Look’, which redefined the female silhouette and reinvigorated the post-War Parisian fashion industry. The V&A recognised Dior’s important contribution to design history early-on in his career, acquiring his sketches and garments from the 1950s onwards. The influence of Christian Dior’s design was all-pervasive and helped to define an era. In their own individual ways, each of the House’s successive artistic directors have referenced and reinterpreted Dior’s own designs and continued the legacy of the founder, ensuring that the House of Christian Dior is at the forefront of fashion today. More than seventy years after its founding, the V&A’s exhibition will celebrate the enduring influence of the House of Dior and uncover Dior’s relationship with Britain.” 

Écarlate afternoon dress, F/W 1955 Haute Couture collection, Y line. Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Photo © Laziz Hamani

The exhibition Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams runs from 2 February – 14 July 2019. Tickets will go on sale in Fall 2018 and will be available soon here.

LoL, Sandra

Photos: Courtesy of Dior

Who Are You, Miss Dior?

Miss Dior Le Parfum Cover

“I create so that each and every woman is the most beautiful“. Christian Dior

Christian Dior was a visionary. Beginning with his first collection in 1947 he rewrote the rules of modern elegance and imposed his style on the entire world. He brought women his vision of beauty and happiness. He showed unprecedented creative originality.

In a dress embroidered with thousands of flowers designed by Raf Simons, Natalie Portman reveals a new facette of Miss Dior – Le Parfum, which I was able to explore in detail before the grand opening of the exhibition at the Grand Palais dedicated to this iconic scent.

Miss Dior - Sandra Bauknecht - 30

Me in my beloved Bambi print neoprene sweatshirt iconby Givenchy, belt by Bottega Veneta and stretch-leather skinny pants iconby Gucci.

Sandra Bauknecht - François Demachy

François Demachy with me

Miss Dior is a green chypre, the world’s first. When it appeared in 1947, its construction was unique, a masterful balancing act of notes: the citric from a citrus fruit, the floral drawn straight from the garden, and then the woody notes of patchouli and oak moss.

Miss Dior Perfume 3

“When Miss Dior was created in 1947, it was a perfume unlike any other. The green chypre was known at the time, but no one had succeeded in developing the green note in the chypre in a way that produced an harmonious result,” explains François Demachy, Dior’s perfumer-creator.

Miss Dior Family
Miss Dior is a family and its various accords depend on the compositions, on the different raw materials with which they’re made. Thus, the citrus is expressed by a neroli (in the Eau de Toilette), a Sicilian mandarin (Eau de Parfum and the Parfum) or a Calabrian bergamot (Eau Fraîche); then jasmine, ylang-ylang and rose alternately form the fragrance’s floral bouquet; with oak moss, sandalwood, vetiver or patchouli writing the woody notes.

Miss Dior Perfume 2

” Miss Dior is a highly codified succession of materials that in themselves have nothing in common. But it’s when these materials are mixed together that the fabled Miss Dior harmony is formed, the one that every woman recognizes,” François Demachy states.

Miss dior 500

Regarding the name, there is a sweet anecdote. Catherine, the little sister of Christian Dior, walked down the stairs when the designer’s muse Mitza Bricard exclaimed “Miss Dior” in her unique way that made him think of the ultimate chic.

Dior Miss Dior Perfume

Very interesting to know is that in the beginning when the perfume was launched, you could only get it if you bought a dress at Dior. Isn’t it funny how the world has changed. Today, you mostly buy into the world of Dior via a fragrance… but as Christian Dior put it: “Perfume is the finishing touch to a dress.” And again, I couldn’t agree more and Miss Dior Le Parfum definitely belongs to my favorites.

LoL, Sandra

Miss Dior Perfume

Photos: © Sandra Bauknecht

Miss Dior Exhibition in Paris

Miss Dior Exhibition in Paris-Sandra Bauknecht

During the last two weeks, the Grand Palais hosted the flagship exhibition dedicated to the spirit of Miss Dior, the house’s famous and first fragrance. To celebrate the opening night, celebrities such as Natalie Portman, the face of Dior, Sophie Marceau, Karl Lagerfeld and many more came to see the exhibition themselves, followed by an amazing after party also hosted at the Grand Palais. I felt very honored to be invited to such an exclusive event.

Sandra Bauknecht - Mary Ma -3

Arriving with Mary Ma, international model and Chinese fashion designer.

Miss Dior Exhibition  Sandra Bauknecht - Paris

Christian Dior himself, a creative and visionary genius, managed to unite couture and perfumes. During my visit to the exhibition, I enjoyed exploring the designer’s life and work plus his artistic influences.

Miss Dior-Dress

Sandra Bauknecht - Miss Dior 12

Scetches Dior

To illustrate his passion for art, it also presented the works of fifteen contemporary women artists, who were inspired by the iconic scent Miss Dior. Below you can see my favorite artworks.

Miss Dior Exhibition 56

ALYSON SHOTZ
” I love that idea of there being no surface, no inside or outside. Surface is structure, and vice versa. These shapes are created by assembling a large whole, piece by piece. The observer visually combines all the little parts and when he walks around the sculpture, his eyes and brain assemble these shapes in different ways.”

For New Yorker Alyson Shotz, the rose theme, a flower dear to Christian Dior, also inspired her sculpture Infinite Rose with its reflections of steel and dichroic film, which changes color and shape depending on the movement of light, and that of the observer.

Miss Dior Exhibition 2

MARIA NEPOMUCENO
“I decided to bring the bottle of Miss Dior perfume, which for me is an object related to elegance and delicacy, to my own universe. I transformed the shape of the bottle into an object made of clay, from which tentacles and roots protrude, but also crevices with emerging organic elements.”

Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1976, Maria transcends the Miss Dior bottle to create an organic and sensual installation using different material. Spirals of nylon, rope, straw and woven pearls are rolled up in an endless process, like a living sculpture, moving matter that bonds everyday life, cosmology and genetics.

Joana Vasconcelos-Miss Dior

JOANA VASCONCELOS
“I enjoyed being able to merge with the Miss Dior spirit, and its combination of extremes, that engage the world of couture and playfulness, architectural rigor and cotton candy lightness.”

My avid readers might recognize Joana Vasconcelos from her current solo exhibition at the Gucci Museo in Florence. For Dior, she has imagined a carbon fiber bow some 3 meters wide adorned with almost 1.665 perfume bottles and LED lights. This is probably the most impressive installation of the exhibition.

Sandra Bauknecht-Miss Dior-4

NIKA ZUPANG
“Starting out with a vision of the idealized and somewhat conservative Dior woman, I wanted to shake up her image. I didn’t want to distort it, I just set out to highlight the strengths of her unique, singular character.”

Recognized the world over for her objects midway between fantasy and narration, the Slovenian designer explores femininity from every angle with a series of pieces and collaborations, highlighting sensuality and seduction. Here, she created a fairy-tale pavilion dedicated to women and their aspirations. This was one of my favorite artworks of the exhibition.

Miss Dior Exhibition 40

KAREN KILIMNIK
“When seeing this piece, I would like visitors to the exhibition to want to take a look through the archives of Dior.”

Born in Philadelphia, Karen Kilimnik dramatizes today’s consumer society and the world of images through her paintings and lyrical installations, with a profound sense of romanticism. Inspired by the 18th century Drottingholm Theater in Sweden and the design sets for Alexei Ratmansky’s production of Psyche, but also fascinated by the Dior archives and first models, she has taken a new look at the follies and gloryfiers.

Miss Dior Exhibition 55

CAROLE BENZAKEN
“In Miss Dior, I don’t see a woman, I see colors and landscapes. It is a relationship between skin and veins, heart and heartbeat, music, life.”

With Carole Benzaken, media – drawing, painting, photography, video -, intertwine and overlap each other. She designed a majestic but fragile opalescent glass sculpture spanning one meter, surrounded by seven back-lit vats decorated with wooded landscaped drawings, like the idea of a liquid and immaterial fragrance that takes up and appropriates space.

Miss Dior Exhibition 41

POLLY APFELBAUM
” I decided to create a work that reflected Dior’s audacity and the brand’s tradition of allying the new with the classical.”

It was the houndstooth pattern that inspired the American artist’s large-scale installation, hand-woven in Mexico using the traditional weaving techniques of Oaxaca.

Miss Dior Exhibition 43

LEE BUL
“Smell is the most closely related sense to memory. A sense that appeals to emotions more than a reason.”

An unmissable figure from the Asian artistic scene, she created a dozen monumental sculptures in crystal and aluminum. For this exhibition, she has taken a new look at the olfactive memory of Miss Dior, its light and modernity at the center of an installation designed as a manifesto, standing 5 meters high and weighing almost 500 kg.

I stepped inside this suspended cocoon for a private journey on self-reflection.

Sandra Bauknecht _ Miss Dior-1

Miss Dior 200

CARLA MATTI
“I chose to interpret the theme of Dior’s beloved rose in my own poetical way.”

Under a venomous hybrid appearance, the works of Carla Matti are about nature and reality, the world and its virtual dimension. This young Italian artist scanned then recomposed and computer printed in 3-D the legendary Miss Dior rose which is transformed into a sculpted rose garden full of original flowers taken from a bend of five different floral varieties.

Sandra Bauknecht - Montasar Dumas - Paris Miss Dior Exhibition

At the after party: Having fun with the fabulous Montasar Dumas.

Sandra Bauknecht -Miss Dior 101

It was such a fabulous event and I truly had a blast. If you like my look, here are all the details: Black strapless dress by Prada, pointed leather Mary-Jane pumpsicon by Saint Laurent, skirt belt, feather stole, handbag and pearl necklace, all by Dior.

Vanity Fair Cover

Thank you Vanity Fair for featuring me among the most amazing celebrities!

LoL, Sandra

Miss Dior Exhibition Ambiance

Photos: Courtesy of Dior, Vanity Fair and © Sandra Bauknecht