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PARIS — The Christian Dior fashion show went on — and so, too, will the exhibition.
Forging ahead despite the dramatic ouster of its star couturier, John Galliano, amid allegations of racist and anti-Semitic outbursts, the French fashion house next month will inaugurate “Inspiration Dior,” a sprawling exhibition at Moscow’s famous Pushkin Museum of Fine Art.
The showcase, opening to the public April 28 and running through July 24, is to feature about 120 couture dresses along with some 60 blue-chip artworks, including paintings from the Pushkin’s bulging collection and others on loan from top museums and private collections.
Among fashion highlights will be several recent Dior acquisitions: the 1955 Richard Avedon photo “Dovima With Elephants,” one of the most famous fashion images of all time, and a striking white New Look dress by the house founder, its waist wrapped in trailing red ribbons, a strand of ivy leaves snaking over one shoulder. Dior snapped up the latter at a recent auction in the founder’s hometown of Granville, France.
Spread across 15,000 square feet and six grand exhibition rooms, the expo will coincide with the reopening of Dior’s boutique on Stoleshnikov Pereulok, upgraded to the new standards of Parisian grandeur set by architect Peter Marino, whose concept for the historic Avenue Montaigne location here has already been extended to important flagships, including ones on 57th Street in New York and Hong Kong’s Peking Road.
The exhibition covers the entire product universe of Dior, including perfumes, leather goods, fine jewelry and watches, and a broad sweep of history, from 18th-century and Belle Epoque influences on the founder, who presented his first collection in 1947, to present-day celebrities such as Penélope Cruz and Marion Cotillard, who wear the brand on the red carpet.
But the artistry and refinement of high-fashion dresses are the stars of the show, spanning styles by the founding designer and all his successors: Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré and Galliano. Video clips exalt the skills of Dior’s seamstresses and craftsmen.
Digital renderings of one exhibition room depict neoclassic columns cut away to reveal dresses suspended inside them. The set design is by Nathalie Crinière.
Fashion historian Florence Muller curated the fashions, organized by broad themes, such as the Granville gardens that inspired the founder to the globe-trotting themes — Egypt, China and Spain — exemplified during the Galliano era.
Russia figures in the mix, from graphic, geometric dresses juxtaposed with paintings by Kazimir Malevich to black-and-white fashion photos of models in Dior frolicking in Red Square.
Jacques Ranc curated an impressive array of artworks, from Old Masters to contemporary pieces, according to a Dior spokesman. On display will be works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Gustav Klimt, Vincent van Gogh and Edouard Manet through to Jeff Koons, Maurizio Cattelan and Vanessa Beecroft. Dior also commissioned Russian contemporary artist Olga Kisseleva to create a large-scale piece especially for the exhibition.
A 320-page catalogue is to be published in tandem with the exhibition, available in French, English and Russian.