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Hats Off to NGV Dior Exhibition

September 5, 2017

On Thursday the 25th of August, I attended the media launch of the NGV exhibition opening of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture.
It proved to be a stunning exhibition, wonderfully organised with a hundred and forty rapturous garments.

Ali - Retro-1

AW modelling couture in 1973

AW in Couture wearing Christian Dior hat early 50s

AW in couture, wearing Christian Dior chapeaux, 1950’s

Being a hataholic I was certainly taken with the exhibition of Steven Jones’ wonderfully whimsical hats.
This exhibition also showcases designs by Dior’s successors, Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferre, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri.
This is by far the best costume exhibition I have seen in the last thirty five years at NGV Victoria.

Certainly when Christian Dior debuted his ‘haute couture’ at his 30 Montaigne headquarters on February the 12th 1947 it provoked rapture, scandal and changed the way we see fashion forever.
Dior had an aesthete’s sensibility, he loved traditional and modern art, music, flowers and costumes – ideal qualifications for an outstanding couturier.

“Fashion tells us things about ourselves that codify or idealise our existence.”
Said Maria France Pochna, a significant author and researcher on Dior.



Christian Dior hat, spring-summer 1956

Dior assembled around him, superb staff at Maison de Couture, but in my reading about Dior over the last thirty years I especially admired the creative imagination and bravado of Madam Mitzah Bricard, Christian Dior’s “empress muse.”
She was amazingly, spontaneously creative, conjuring a hat for one of the collections “Just get me a few straws” or “that dress needs a dog collar, or a bit of chiffon around the neck to soften it.”
Asked who her favourite florist was, she replied “Cartier.”
Dior could not do without her – she was his ideal of womanhood.



The bejewelled and turbaned Mitzah Bricard, photographed by the legendary Cecil Beaton.


Mitzah, as well as being his muse, edited Dior’s collections. She was never seen at Avenue Montaigne before midday wearing an elegant turban, her pearls, and stiletto heels – the personification of elegance, glamour, and hauteur. Mitzah made men tremble – Alexander Liberman, Editorial Director of Conde Nast described her as “feminine seduction incarnate.”





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