Archive for the 'Fashion' Category

The Art World and Dior: Raf Simons

Andy Warhol walked the René Magritte cloud-inspired runway, but Raf Simons’ Fall 2013 collection borrowed its name, “The Persistence of Memory,” from Salvador Dalí. Simons, drawing on formative moments in his life and in the life of Christian Dior, nods here to their shared journey as art gallerists-turned-couturiers. Simons, Dior Creative Director from 2012 to 2015, was dedicated to continuing the bond between artists and Dior.

Dior closed his gallery in 1934 when the 1929 financial crisis adversely affected the art market. In 1945, Dior turned to Dalí as the inspiration for his Autumn/Winter collection, and in 1950 Dior and Dalí collaborated in Brazil to create the futuristic Costume of the year 2045.

Salvador Dalí, Costume of the year 2045, 1950, blue silk dress and red crutch, Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand

In his debut Dior collection, Simons collaborated with contemporary artist Sterling Ruby. Simons used custom-made silks based on Ruby’s paintings, turning the canvases into haute couture. Ruby was a contemporary of Simons in the same way Dalí was a contemporary of Dior’s.

Looks from Christian Dior by Raf Simons’ Haute Couture Fall-Winter 2012 collection displayed alongside Sterling Ruby’s work SP115.

Throughout his tenure at 30 Avenue Montaigne, Simons revisited Dior’s personal history, weaving Dior’s love of art, and art connections, into the future.

A fortuneteller once told 14-year-old Dior:

“You’ll find yourself penniless, but women will always bring you luck and it is through them that you’ll be successful.”

Dior reportedly had his tarot cards read before every runway show. Pop artist Andy Warhol was also superstitious—and fascinated with Christian Dior. Like Dior, Andy Warhol’s first commission was a Glamour magazine sketch of a stylish woman sitting on the top rung of a ladder.

Simons connected Dior to Warhol through his career as a commercial artist and illustrator for department stores. For his Fall 2013 collection, created in conjunction with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, he incorporated Warhol’s early illustrations into his designs.

A key work exploring the relationship between Warhol and Dior is a painted folding screen for the Miss Dior perfume. The screen was used as a display in the window of the Bonwit Teller department store.

The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc/ARS

Coming full circle, Warhol goes from creating the Miss Dior perfume ad to being featured on the Miss Dior bag in Simons’ Fall 2013 collection. You can see the Limited Edition Miss Dior handbag from the collection in Dior: From Paris to the World‘s “Total Look” gallery.

Simons also directly referenced Warhol’s 1966 work Silver Clouds as a nod to Warhol, Dior, and Simons’ own shared past. Models displayed reimagined Dior designs and Warhol sketches as they walked past giant silver sculptures; however, when the Fall 2013 collection walked, fashion magazines noted the sculptural resemblance to Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor, better known as the “The Bean” in Chicago’s Millennium Park.

Perhaps Simons references both—a fleeting reminder that history repeats itself.

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Visit DMA.org/Dior to reserve timed exhibition tickets in advance for Dior: From Paris to the World.

Clara Cobb is the Senior Marketing Manager at the DMA.

Dior and Dali: Maria Grazia Chiuri

Surrealism has had a major impact on both the art world and popular visual culture. Its influences are evident in Pop art, Abstract Expressionism, and time-based media installations, and in contemporary film, music, and advertising. In Dior: From Paris to the World, you can see Surrealism’s influence as a continuing inspiration in haute couture fashion.

Maria Grazia Chiuri explored Surrealist symbolism in her Spring–Summer 2018 show, where monochromatic black and white dresses were offset by a black-and-white chessboard runway “in a not-so-subtle nod to the world of games,” according to Dior, “conjuring an otherworldliness and constant optical illusion.”

© Bakas Algirdas

Chiuri explored Surrealism in her collection with a focus on American photographer Man Ray and female Surrealists Leonora Carrington and Leonor Fini. It’s no coincidence that she found inspiration in Fini, as Christian Dior, an art gallerist turned couturier, organized Fini’s first solo exhibition in November 1932.

Fini, a young and audacious artist, was a celebrity in her time, in part thanks to Dior. She often wore his designs—although in a memorable 1936 episode she attended a party wearing only “knee-length white leatherette boots and a cape of white feathers.”

Look 19. Christian Dior by Maria Grazia Chiuri. Haute Couture Spring–Summer 2018. Courtesy of Dior.

Alchimiste, a checkerboard ensemble that includes a long dress made of organza inserts with a feather-embroidered short cape (Look 5, Maria Grazia Chiuri: The New Feminity), reimagines a representation of Fini’s famous party ensemble against the Surrealist chessboard.

Look 48. Christian Dior by Maria Grazia Chiuri. Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2018. Courtesy of Dior.

More literally, Chiuri’s dress Nude (Look 8, Maria Grazia Chiuri: The New Feminity), with its trompe l’oeil dress embroidered with metallic sequins, is a literal interpretation of Man Ray’s 1929 Nude. A copy of Man Ray’s work can be found on Chiuri’s mood board.

In a way, the dress also pays homage to René Magritte’s The Light of Coincidences, on view in the DMA’s European Galleries on Level 2. In creating Chiuri’s Nude, hand-embroidered silver metal sequins were specially placed so the results mimicked light reflecting on the body, similar to the candlelight against Magritte’s sculptural torso.

René Magritte, The Light of Coincidences, 1933, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Jake L. Hamon, 1981.9, © C. Herscovici, Brussels/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Dior also debuted Salvador Dalí’s masterpiece The Persistence of Memory as part of a larger solo exhibition in 1931. The painting famously depicts Dalí’s melting clocks, which Dior presented when he worked at the Galérie Bonjean. Chiuri also displays Dalí’s 1944 Vogue cover on her mood board in the exhibition.

Salvador Dalí, The Persistence of Memory, 1931, oil on canvas, The Museum of Modern Art, 162.1934, © 2019 Salvador Dalí, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” played over the last looks in the runway show—New York’s Newsday described the band as having “blurring effects [that] stretch and contract the music into the liquid surrealism of a Salvador Dalí painting.” Their 1992 Gravity Grave EP cover nods to The Persistence of Memory.

The Verve’s Gravity Grave EP cover

However, it was most likely Fini that Chiuri was channeling when she chose The Verve, using graphic masks to note literally Fini’s passion for grand balls, which allowed her to impersonate different characters. An extraordinary ball held at Venice’s Palazzo Labia on September 3, 1951, organized by Charles de Beistegui, would go down in posterity as “The Ball of the Century” and an unforgettable fusion of the arts. Dior, Fini, and Dalí were among the 1,500 guests.

Andre Ostier, Leonor Fini, 1951, gelatin silver print, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum purchase funded by Mr. and Mrs. Harry B. Gordon, 80.22

And what is a ball without a mask? Is fashion not a daily mask we can use like a Surrealist to explore playing with reality?

As The Verve sang over Chiuri’s runway: “I’m a million different people from one day to the next, I can’t change my mold no, no, no, no.”

Explore these Surrealist connections and more in Dior: From Paris to the World through September 1. Visitors must purchase timed tickets in advance at DMA.org/Dior.

Clara Cobb is the Senior Marketing Manager at the DMA.

“The Master of the Moment” Takes Texas: Dior and Dallas

During the first ten years of the House of Dior’s existence, Dallas played a pivotal role in the label’s expansion across the Atlantic. Dallas was the first city that Christian Dior visited in the US, when he traveled in 1947 to receive the Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion (called the “Oscars of the fashion industry”).[1] Not only was Dior impressed by the city and by Neiman Marcus itself, which became from that point forward a major retailer of Dior, but he also became close friends with Stanley Marcus, the store’s then-owner. Their relationship is recorded in photographs taken by Marcus as well as in telegrams and letters now kept in the Stanley Marcus Papers at SMU. Collectively, they demonstrate the importance of Dallas to this iconic label and its founder.

Christian Dior accepting the Neiman Marcus Award from Stanley Marcus, 1947, gelatin silver print, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

Dior’s 1947 visit to Dallas, when he was recognized with the Neiman Marcus Award as “master of the moment in the ranks of French couture,” introduced him to the world of American fashion.[2] Honored alongside Italian shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo, British fashion designer Norman Hartnell, Hollywood costume designer Irene, and actress Dolores del Rio, Dior presented his revolutionary “New Look” to the American South with three outfits specially commissioned for the exposition.[3] The trip inspired him to think of adapting his work to the less formal dressing style of American consumers.[4] A year after his Dallas trip, Dior created his Christian Dior-New York label of ready-to-wear outfits for the American lifestyle. Sold primarily through the house’s boutique in New York, the label was also sold in select stores throughout the US, including at Neiman Marcus.[5] Dior likely exhibited works from this new label when he returned a second time to Dallas in 1950 to show outfits and examples from his new line of men’s ties.[6] Dallas was the site of a major exhibition of Dior’s fashion again in 1954 when it was the only US stop in a Pan-American tour of the recent Paris line.[7]

Christian Dior handing a flower to Billie Marcus, La Colle Noire, photo by Stanley Marcus, 1954, gelatin silver print, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

During this time, Stanley Marcus and Dior continued to develop their friendship. Numerous photos in the collection show that Marcus visited Dior in France at both his Paris apartment and his country home in Grasse. Letters and telegrams back and forth show the two discussing business as well as personal events in their lives. The relationship between Dior and Stanley Marcus resulted in a large representation of Dior’s products at Neiman Marcus’s 1957 French Fortnight, a two-week-long event that honored the store’s fiftieth anniversary. The accompanying booklet highlighted the range of goods from France’s most well known brands available for purchase, as well as local events celebrating French culture. Dior was represented in a stall that reproduced the original boutique on the Avenue Montaigne, and the company launched its perfume Diorissimo there.[8] Dior was unfortunately unable to attend, and, in fact, he would die before the Fortnight ended. Nevertheless, Dior’s close relationship with Dallas was highlighted by the fact that a poster advertising the Fortnight hung for a time in Dior’s Paris boutique.[9] The next year, Yves Saint Laurent’s first US visit was also to Dallas to receive the Neiman Marcus Award, citing the trip his predecessor took 11 years before.[10] Dallas was a clear focal point of activity for Christian Dior and a city of enormous symbolic importance, and it is therefore appropriate that the man and his label are currently being celebrated at the DMA.

Stanley Marcus and Yves Saint Laurent, photo by Georgette de Bruchard, 1958, gelatin silver print, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University

My thanks to Hillary Bober, archivist at the DMA, Natalie “Schatzie” Lee, research volunteer, and the librarians at SMU for their assistance in this research.

Get a closer look at more archival materials that illustrate Dior’s history with Dallas in Dior: From Paris to the World, on view through September 1. Timed tickets are required for all visitors of the exhibition, which can be purchased in advance here.

Nicholas de Godoy Lopes is the McDermott Intern for Decorative Arts and Design at the DMA.


[1] Marihelen McDuff, Neiman-Marcus Award press release (Dallas: Neiman-Marcus, 1947), 1.
[2] Tenth Annual Fashion Exposition Show invitation (Dallas, Texas: Neiman-Marcus, 1947), 2.
[3] McDuff, Neiman-Marcus Award press release, 3.
[4] Alexandra Palmer, “Global Expansions and Licenses,” in Dior: A New Look, A New Enterprise, 1947-1957 (London: V&A Publishing, 2009), 78.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Katherine Dillard, “Christian Dior Says Fashion Will Stress Feminine Curves,” The Dallas Morning News, October 17, 1950.
[7] Palmer, “Global Expansions and Licenses,” 107; “Dior’s Paris Collection to Make Only U.S. Appearance in Dallas,” The Dallas Morning News, November 7, 1954.
[8] Anne Wright to Stanley Marcus, May 1, 1957; Neiman-Marcus, Neiman-Marcus Brings France to Texas: Everything from A to Z (Dallas: Neiman-Marcus, 1957), unpaginated.
[9] Stanley Marcus to Christian Dior, October 2, 1957.
[10] “For N-M Award: Shy Young Designing Genius Plans First Trip to America,” The Dallas Morning News, August 2, 1958.

 

Au Revoir Monsieur Gaultier

Last week we bid adieu to The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier after three months of hosting the internationally touring exhibition at the DMA. Before the exhibition travels to its final U.S. museum, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco: de Young, here are a few stats from the DMA’s presentation:

  • 114,986 visitors over three months
  • 16,044 postcards purchased
  • 1,020 catalogues sold
  • 142 ensembles
  • 73 works on paper
  • 49 wigs designed by Odile Gilbert
  • 30 animated mannequins
  • 13 weeks on view
  • 6 galleries of works
  • 2 custom cowboy-inspired greeters
  • 1 incredible fashion designer

See the exhibition from arrival to departure and everything in between.

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Kimberly Daniell is the PR Specialist at the Dallas Museum of Art.

“Like a Virgin”: Countdown to Gaultier’s First Exhibition

Last week several of my colleagues and I began meeting about the logistics of deinstalling the exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk once it closes on February 12. Gaultier is the world-renowned French couturier, whose fashion has been worn by everyone from Madonna to Lady Gaga. We found it difficult to believe that we were already making plans to take down a show in which we had invested so much time and effort installing. I was enormously privileged to be given the opportunity to help coordinate this installation as its exhibition registrar and to witness firsthand how so many of my colleagues transformed themselves daily into magicians in order to see this complicated project come to fruition in a tight timeframe. Permit me this walk down memory lane as I highlight stops, junctions, and detours on our way to what was the first of many openings, the VIP Host Committee Luncheon at 11:00 a.m. on November 9, 2011.

July 14–19 (3 months and 3 ½ weeks until opening)

This exhibition was the first fashion installation most of us had ever worked on, and its many technical requirements added extra complexities. A trip to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ installation was vital for me and several of my colleagues. We take hundreds of pictures, ask pages of questions, and document mannequin mounting, lighting, and mechanical specifications.

October 17 (3 weeks and 2 days until opening)

Two 18-wheelers deliver the majority of the exhibition, with mannequins, mounts, and furniture in a regular truck, and costumes and works on paper in a climate-controlled one.

October 18 (3 weeks and 1 day until opening)

As soon as possible, we locate and unpack the Galleon headband so its dimensions can be verified for our preparators, who will make a mount for it, and our carpenters, who will build the proper-size “porthole” display case.

Preparators John Lendvay and Mary Nicolett assemble mannequins and take height measurements so they will know where to place them on the platforms in relation to the projectors, which will eventually bring their faces to life.

October 20 (3 weeks until opening)

Once the Odyssey gallery mannequins have been placed, the preparators hang the projectors a precise eighty-eight inches away from their noses so that the faces will align properly and not look like Picasso paintings.

LED strips are affixed inside the Urban Jungle gallery platforms before their frosted Plexiglas tops are installed.

October 21 (2 weeks, 6 days until opening)

Naked assembled mannequins await dressing in what was deemed the “morgue” but later transformed into the Exhibition Store.

October 24 (2 weeks and 2 days until opening)

Several tightly fitted leggings and stockings were packed directly on their legs to save wear and tear from dressing and undressing them at each venue.  Thankfully, the mannequin body parts were labeled so we could easily match them to the proper legless torsos.

October 28 (1 week and 5 days until opening)

Tanel Bedrossiantz from Gaultier’s Paris atelier and local mannequin dresser Greg Goolsby join us on our first day of costume installation.

October 29 (1 week and 4 days until opening)

By the end of our second day, sixty mannequins throughout the exhibition have been dressed, including the catwalk models and their surrounding “punks.” We made it a priority to focus first on those with projections to allow as much time as possible for alignment and editing.

As hectic as the installation is, we find time to appreciate the humor – here Montreal’s organizing curator (and former model) Thierry Loriot demonstrates how to properly wear a Mohawk before attaching it to a mannequin head with double-stick tape.

Preparators and carpenter Dennis Bishop install the screen scrim and fine-tune the chain mechanism of the catwalk.

October 31 (1 week, 2 days until opening)

The porthole into the Urban Jungle gallery is finished, allowing visitors a sneak peek into the installation, and at the DMA’s Margot B. Perot Curator of Decorative Arts and Design Kevin Tucker, who is working with preparator Mike Hill on mannequin placement.

Mannequins patiently await their turn to be mounted on their catwalk platforms.

Tanel detaches a mannequin’s hands in order to install its many bracelets.

The “Hussar coat”-look silk faille skirt is unpacked. This piece has its own crate and is packed suspended over a cone support.

November 1 (1 week and 1 day until opening)

Gaultier atelier staff member Thoaï Nirodeth laces up the Chantilly lace body stocking. The Skin Deep gallery is the last to be dressed and installed because the back wall was built over a doorway we needed in order to move the large mannequin cases in and out of the space.

November 3 (6 days until opening)

We discover that a new mannequin has been sent for Madonna’s dancer’s costume in the Skin Deep gallery, and this one does not want to support himself (or Madonna) on all fours. After consultation with our conservator John Dennis and the Gaultier atelier, we build a mount to support him at the collar bone (surreptitously hidden by his black scarf).

A shipment of new outfits arrives from Paris, including the cowboy and cowgirl looks at the entry of the exhibition (created specifically for the Dallas installation), the 3-D “horn of plenty satin ribbon corset-style gown (which was just on the runway over the summer), and the costume from the film Kika. Upon unpacking the helmet, we notice the absence of a key accessory—an early model video camera. We locate similar ones on Ebay, but are fortunately able to obtain one overnight from a friend of a coworker who (thankfully) never throws anything away.

November 6 (3 days before opening)

The final shipment arrives from Montreal, including mannequins for the new outfits just arrived from Paris and clothing items with animal-related components that had been delayed due to customs problems.

Although it is standard practice to allow artwork twenty-four hours to acclimatize after arrival, time is of the essence and we unpack the final shipment immediately, which includes the doll with the ostrich-feather dress in the Boudoir gallery. In order to import items made from endangered animals or migratory birds, it is necessary to apply for government permits, which can take months to process.

Preparator Doug Velek installs the final two works on paper amid hair clippings in the exit gallery—the space that had been used as the “salon” of wig stylist Hugo Raiah.

November 7 (2 days before opening)

Preparator Lance Lander was instrumental in “lassoing” the numerous and complicated AV components in the exhibition, and also came to the rescue by lending the final accessories to complete the cowboy and cowgirl “looks.” (The lasso and Black Stetson were requested by the atelier at the last minute.)

Carpenter Dennis Bishop puts the finishing touches on the projector covers in the Odyssey gallery.

November 7, 8:30 p.m. (1 day and 9 ½ hours until opening)

Jean Paul Gaultier comes straight from the airport for his first walk-through of our installation. Several of us were on hand to welcome him and are privileged to watch the design genius at work as he adjusts the drapery of fabric and modifies accessories. To add more of his characteristic je ne sais quoi to the Chalk-striped mink pantsuit, he borrows a gold lamé turban from one of the female punks (now stylishly bald) and adds the Plastic bolero with gold thread embroidery.

November 8, 6:00 p.m. (17 hours before opening)

Registrars, preparators, and even our chair of collections and exhibitions scramble to clean, arrange, and affix the mirrored tiles to the platforms in the Metropolis gallery.

November 9, 10:00 a.m. (1 hour until opening)

After final consultation with Jean Paul Gaultier, his atelier staff hang the train of the Satin cage-look corset dress on the wall according to his specific direction.

Reagan Duplisea is the Assistant Registrar for Exhibitions at the Dallas Museum of Art.

Graffiti Couture

There are six exciting galleries inside The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk exhibition, from a red light district to a motorized runway. For the Punk Cancan room, we decided to tag the walls with details of Gaultier and Dallas with the help of graffiti artist Jerod DTOX Davies for Blunt Force Crew/Beastmode Squad. Below is a behind-the-scenes look at the tagging process.

Photography by Adam Gingrich, Dallas Museum of Art Marketing Assistant, and George Fiala.

Seldom Scene: A Tip of the Hat

African Headwear: Beyond Fashion opened yesterday and will be on view through January 1, 2012. The exhibition celebrates the artistry of African decorative design and initiates us into the world of fashion a few months before we host Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk. Below are a few images showing the preparation that went into creating the African Headwear exhibition.


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