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Miami

Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, Kennedy Yanko, Reginald O’Neal, and Cajsa von Zeipel

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Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.

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"Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams" at the Brooklyn Museum, photo by Here and Now Agency, courtesy of Dior.
"Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams" at the Brooklyn Museum, photo by Here and Now Agency, courtesy of Dior.
"Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams" at the Brooklyn Museum, photo by Here and Now Agency, courtesy of Dior.
Dior haute couture Fall/Winter 2021, courtesy of Dior.
Installation view of "Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams" at the Brooklyn Museum, photo by Here and Now Agency, courtesy of Dior.
Maria Grazia Chiuri, courtesy of Dior.
"Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams" at the Brooklyn Museum, photo by Here and Now Agency, courtesy of Dior.
Dior haute couture Fall/Winter 2021, courtesy of Dior.
Dior haute couture Fall/Winter 2019-20, photo by © Adrien Dirand, courtesy of Dior.
Dior haute couture Fall/Winter 2019-20, photo by © Adrien Dirand, courtesy of Dior.
Dior haute couture Spring/Summer 2020, artworks by Judy Chicago, courtesy of Dior.
Dior haute couture Spring/Summer 2020, artworks by Judy Chicago, courtesy of Dior.
"Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams" at the Brooklyn Museum, photo by Here and Now Agency, courtesy of Dior.
"Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams" at the Brooklyn Museum, photo by Here and Now Agency, courtesy of Dior.
Presents
Detailing the legacy of artistic collaborations in "Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams"
Installation view of "Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams" at the Brooklyn Museum, photo by Here and Now Agency, courtesy of Dior.

Episode 3

Designer Meets Artist

By Whitewall

November 16, 2021

Open to the public through February 20, 2022 at the Brooklyn Museum, “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams” details the vision of Monsieur Christian Dior and the fashion maison’s continued impact culture and creativity. The couturier’s beginnings in art have remained a source of inspiration for the house today, examples of which appear throughout the show in New York.

Monsieur Dior began his career as a gallerist in 1928 when he was just 23 years old, presenting and befriending artists like Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí, Christian Bérard, and Alexander Calder. Eight years later, the couturier Robert Piguet hired him to for his eye—this time for design and fashion—resulting in a job for Lucien Lelong’s couture house. Throughout that time, he met textile producers and designers like Pierre Balmain and Marcel Boussac, who eventually encouraged him to start his own line.

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"Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams" at the Brooklyn Museum, photo by Here and Now Agency, courtesy of Dior.

In 1947, at 42 years old, Monsieur Dior presented his very first collection, the “New Look,” which transformed whimsical illustrations into wearable works of art. Throughout the rest of his life, Monsieur Dior stayed connected to the art world, be it collecting or finding inspiration in works like 18th-century style portraits by artist Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun.

Monsieur Dior’s successors—from Yves Saint Laurent and Marc Bohan to John Galliano and Raf Simons—expressed their own relationship to art and design in contemporary ways. In “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams,” examples of those connections are in full view—artist and designer directly in dialogue. There’s Bohan’s tribute to the black and abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollock, seen in a regal dress with an oversized bow in the back, standing alongside a series of Pollocks works on paper.

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"Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams" at the Brooklyn Museum, photo by Here and Now Agency, courtesy of Dior.

Saint Laurent’s love of the beatniks and the 1953 film The Wild One shine in an immersive setting, too, with a film clip of a motorcyclist in the background, and black, white, and red dresses, coats, hats, and ensembles on eight mannequins in front. Galliano’s reinventions of Dior silhouettes, inspired by the paintings of Giovanni Boldini, also make an appearance. Here, pieces from Galliano’s haute couture collections—including his iconic Spring/Summer 2000 newspaper print on overalls and a long evening gown in embroidered tulle from Fall/Winter 2002—stand in front of Boldini’s Portrait of a Lady from 1912.

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"Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams" at the Brooklyn Museum, photo by Here and Now Agency, courtesy of Dior.

Simons’s colorful collaboration with the artist Sterling Ruby for Dior’s Fall/Winter 2012 collection was an unforgettable one, as well, seen in the exhibition through a dramatic vignette juxtaposing the American artist’s work with the designer’s memorable Dior garments. The duo’s collaborative spirit, which developed into more of a close friendship, stemmed from a studio visit in 2005. In the exhibition, Ruby’s large-scale spray paint work entitled SP132 from 2010 is hung behind Simons’s dresses and cocktail coats for Fall/Winter 2021, elegantly awash in Ruby’s SP167 shadow print.

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Dior haute couture Fall/Winter 2021, courtesy of Dior.

Today, artists act as Dior muses, with garments collaboratively created, one-of-a-kind artworks hanging as runway show backdrops, and the artists themselves making appearances in campaigns to provide context on their creative processes. In Fall/Winter 2018, the artist Sasha Pivovarova created artwork for the house in a video campaign showcasing her black and white works in a personal setting. And for its current couture collection, Fall/Winter 2021, Dior presented a show with atmospheric backdrops by the artist Eva Jospin. The handbag collaboration series, “Dior Lady Art,” regularly asks artists—like Joël Andrianomearisoa, Gisela Colon, Song Dong, Bharti Kher, Mai-Thu Perret, and Chris Soal—to reimagine the brand’s iconic accessory, too.

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Installation view of "Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams" at the Brooklyn Museum, photo by Here and Now Agency, courtesy of Dior.

Now with Maria Grazia Chiuri as creative director, Dior’s relationship with artists, alongside its role in society as an inclusive brand for future-forward thinking women, has only grown. As the first female designer at Christian Dior, Chiuri takes head on a certain type of responsibility her predecessors did not.

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Maria Grazia Chiuri, courtesy of Dior.

“The visibility of my role causes me to feel the weight of my responsibility toward my audience, who is ever more interconnected and global. I’m thinking especially of the young women, whom I see as our future,” Chiuri told Whitewall in 2019. “To send a positive and inclusive message, to help these young people get to know the stories of those who came before them and of those who are making a difference today, so that they become a source of inspiration to spur them to become agents of change, the new revolution—that is my goal, that is my activism.”

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"Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams" at the Brooklyn Museum, photo by Here and Now Agency, courtesy of Dior.

In the five years since her start at the house, she’s shone a special light on these women—from astrology readers to Mexican horse riders called escaramuzas—and looked to storytellers and traditional artists for inspiration and collaborations to execute her vision.

In September 2016, for the debut of her first Dior collection, Spring/Summer 2017, Chiuri revealed tops emblazoned with the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s words “We Should All Be Feminists.” This start also marked her commitment to having each collection photographed by women, as well having as an emphasis on working with female artists on artistic scenery and details in the collection itself, including Janette Beckman, Sophie Carre, Lea Colombo, and Chloé Le Drezen. All co-created with the artists, many artworks made for the atmosphere have also incorporated the work of craftswomen around the world, often handmade by a Dior-supported non-profit institution in India called the Chanakya School of Craft.

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Dior haute couture Fall/Winter 2021, courtesy of Dior.

Since 2016, Chiuri’s hit several collection high-notes with artistic collaborations and inspirations stemming from a vast range of creators, including Claude Lalanne, Penny Slinger, Mickalene Thomas, Eva Jospin, and Judy Chicago.

“I believe that the work of a creative director is very similar to that of a curator: one who manages to strike a balance between all the different parts of a project thanks to their own vision,” Chiuri said. “So more than collage, I would speak of shaping, of a continuous movement between micro and macro: guiding the parts toward a unitary vision in a perfect work of synthesis.”

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Dior haute couture Fall/Winter 2019-20, photo by © Adrien Dirand, courtesy of Dior.

An artistic collaboration of note for Chiuri was Dior’s Fall/Winter 2019-2020 show, featuring the black-and-white works of Slinger. Recounting the alchemy of elements like fire, air, and water, her works visually touched upon the mysterious femininity that embrace the female form for sculptures, ancient temples, and Parisian edifices. Special for the show, Slinger brought back to life all the women who animated 30 Avenue Montaigne, including friends, muses, clients, and even Christian Dior’s beloved sister, Catherine.

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Dior haute couture Fall/Winter 2019-20, photo by © Adrien Dirand, courtesy of Dior.

“Her works are all the stronger because of her activism, her denouncing of the patriarchy, and her thinking about women’s emancipation through the body, desire, and dreams—everything I was looking for to create the setting of this couture collection, linked to the infinite possibilities of the body that are concrete and magic,” Chiuri continued.

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Dior haute couture Spring/Summer 2020, artworks by Judy Chicago, courtesy of Dior.

Another collaboration of great importance was the one Chirui instated between Dior and Chicago, which is well represented in “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams.” Matthew Yokobosky, the Senior Curator of Fashion and Material Culture at the Brooklyn Museum, shared that the eyes of the designer were caught by the artist’s work during a visit to the museum with the Italian embassy. After seeing Chicago’s "The Dinner Party" installation, which features 39 place settings on a triangular table for 39 historical women, she was intrigued. The connection was then realized in the couture collection that followed.

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Dior haute couture Spring/Summer 2020, artworks by Judy Chicago, courtesy of Dior.

For the Spring/Summer 2020 show at the Rodin Museum, as guests entered through a Bureau Betak-designed structure, they were welcomed to an immersive environment adorned with hanging works by the artist. The pieces doubled as a commissioned exhibition, on view to the public for several days after the show, featuring large appliqued and embroidered banners that spotlit questions around the evolution of power for women. Banners produced by the Chanakya School of Craft asked the public in French, “What if Women Ruled the World?,” “Will the Earth be protected?,” “Will there be violence?,” and “Will private property exist?” to question our political and environmental climates, and how they could be impacted by the power of women.

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"Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams" at the Brooklyn Museum, photo by Here and Now Agency, courtesy of Dior.

In the Brooklyn Museum iteration of “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams,” Chicago’s sand-colored banners from the runway show prominently hang with their important messages at the center. At eye-level, Chiuri’s garments inspired by the artist’s work stand just underneath. Glimmering metallic and silver shades are seen next to golden hues and classic black and white pairings, resulting in pleated and tiered dresses, suits, and shoes and accessories that complement the unmissable artwork. To the left is a mood board of portraits, artworks, and more reference
points, while four other framed works on paper by Chicago remain unmissable to the right.

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"Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams" at the Brooklyn Museum, photo by Here and Now Agency, courtesy of Dior.

“The Dior fashion house has succeeded in staying relevant over a long period, peppered with revolution and social and cultural transformations that have sometimes been drastic, by reinventing itself and constantly building its identity around femininity and its complexities,” said Chiuri. “This is mainly because the codes have remained at the core of the Dior project, constantly brought up to date and reinterpreted in light of the times and fashion trends. It is
important to respect the past, because you can only imagine the future if you know what came before it.”

By walking through “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams,” it’s clear how this artistic relevance is maintained. The communication between art and fashion lives on through creative collaborations and engagement, elevating our understanding of art and style, a lasting legacy of Monsieur Dior.

Discover the exhibition.