Curated by Brigitte Richart, Christian Dior museum and Eric Pujalet-Plaà, curator at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the Dior and Roses exhibition is dedicated to the most glorious of flowers, which was also one of Christian Dior’s favorites, and it can be visited in his childhood home, the Les Rhumbs villa in Granville, France. The exhibition will open until October 31st 2021 and offers an original interpretation of Christian Dior’s collections, by exploring the presence, layering, and interactions of an extraordinarily beautiful flower, the rose, and a boundless palette of pinks: Haute Couture designs and accessories, artwork, and decorative items, and objets d’art create an infinite unfurling of roses and pinks.
They include exceptional loans from Christian Dior Couture, Parfums Christian Dior and museums in Paris: the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the Musée National d’Art Moderne (France’s national museum of modern art in the Pompidou Centre), as well as museums in Normandy: the Musée André Malraux (MUMA) in Le Havre, the Musée d’Avranches, and the Granville museums. There are also loans from individuals. The pinks and roses of the collections in the house are echoed by a bed of “Jardin de Granville” roses. The flowers, created by the company André Eve and gifted by Parfums Christian Dior, will adorn the edge of the large lawn that is visible from the villa’s winter garden.
The rose inspired the flower-woman silhouette, initially imagined in the garden in Granville, before it bloomed in 1947 at the Dior fashion house’s first show. Its scent also features in the many perfumes created in 1947, including the first fragrance, Miss Dior.
The word “rose” refers not only to a flower but also to a colour: pink. It is the colour of the family home, with its “pastel pink roughcast walls” (as Dior himself described them). It echoes the delicate shade of the fragrant flowers that he admired in the rose garden added by his mother, Madeleine. It is the colour of childhood, that of Les Petites Filles Modèles (“Good Little Girls”), the famous novel by the Countess of Ségur published as part of the Bibliothèque Rose collection. In 1939, this book inspired a dress by Christian Dior, who at the time was a pattern cutter for fashion designer Robert Piguet.
The evocation of childhood and the garden in Granville is followed by an exploration of Christian Dior’s “other” gardens, which were inspired by the first: the garden in Milly-la-Forêt, south of Paris, then his last garden in Montauroux (Provence), which allowed him to “find, in another climate, the enclosed garden that protected my childhood.” Roses were present there, just as they were in the creations of his artist and poet friends: Raoul Dufy, Salvador Dali, Léonor Fini, Christian Bérard and Jean Cocteau also adopted the rose and its pink colour, both so versatile in the worlds of poetry, art and fashion, which in this case were closely connected.
From pale pink to redder shades, sometimes associated with the world of little girls, sometimes with that of the femme fatale, pink was constantly used by Christian Dior and his successors in the Haute Couture designs and accessories selected for the exhibition: jewellery, scarves, bags, shoes… There are many variations from different periods and different designers: Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano and Raf Simons in the past, and Maria Grazia Chiuri today, have adapted them skilfully for their times.
Finally, the exhibition closely links the designer’s family history and his career, highlighting the exceptional character of his beloved younger sister, Catherine, who worked with flowers, and who supported and inspired her brother.