After an extensive two-year renovation, Dior has reopened its hallowed flagship at 30 avenue Montaigne in Paris. Built in 1865 by the son of Napoleon I, the mansion in the 8th arrondissement has been synonymous with the brand since its creation in December 1946; The following month, the eponymous couturier reinvented post-war fashion with the “New Look”.
Supervised by key fashion architect Peter Marino, who has worked with the house for more than 25 years, the revamped 10,000 square meter space is a veritable Dior ecosphere. In addition to its women’s and men’s boutiques, the space includes the workshop, haute couture salons, three gardens, a restaurant, a pastry shop and a private apartment for VIP clients. But the crown jewel is the 13-room Galerie Dior, accessible via a separate entrance.
Art is rooted in the origins and codes of the house. Indeed, before getting into fashion, Christian Dior was a gallery owner. He co-founded the Galerie Jacques Bonjean in Paris in 1928, and from 1931 he was affiliated with the Galerie Pierre Colle, which held two exhibitions of Salvador Dalí – it was the first space to exhibit his painting. The persistence of Memory– while showing artists such as Picasso, Man Ray, Joan Miró and Max Ernst.
The best-selling “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams” retrospective recently concluded its stint at the Brooklyn Museum after stops in London, Shanghai and Paris. But there’s still an excess of subject matter to curate, from the sublime and slightly bonkers fantasias of John Galiano’s era (see the Egyptian-inspired couture of Spring 2003; the delirium chic of Fall 2004) to the brief flowery mandate from Raf Simon to first female creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri and her current reigning staider.
This excess is found in all its splendor at La Galerie Dior, dedicated to the house, its history, its founder and its six successors. Nathalie Crinière designed the scenographic stories of the retrospective as well as those of the current configuration of the gallery. “It’s a fashion house with a past, a present and a future,” she said in a brand video. “The beauty of writing a story is seeing it evolve, just like life.”
Fear not, the iconic black iron balustraded staircase that served as the backdrop for so many iconic shows is still intact (as is Dior’s original office). The gallery revisits the original staircase with a sparkling new white staircase that winds through a rainbow “colorama” of miniature dresses and accessories, like a tornado that transports you to Dior’s version of Oz .
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