Arts & Culture

How to Visit the DMA's new Dior Exhibit like a Fashionista

Explore the best of the best of 70 years of star-studded Parisian fashion.

Jennifer Simonson
Posted on Jun 18, 2019

One of the largest names in the fashion world, Christian Dior, has turned the lower level of the DMA into a star-studded retrospective of French fashion.

Dior: Paris to the World traces seven decades of the ultimate symbol of Parisian haute culture. The exhibit showcases more than 200 couture dresses, along with accessories, sketches and photos from Dior and the six designers who succeeded him after his death.

Elizabeth Taylor's chiffon evening gown from 1961 makes an appearance as does the brocaded silk satin evening gown Princess Grace of Monaco wore in 1957. The 12,000 square-foot exhibit is the DMA's most ambitious fashion installation to date. Leave yourself at least an hour to tour the 11 rooms of Dior's legacy of fashion that strived "to make women happen and more beautiful."

Can't tell the difference between a Galliano and a Bohan? Not to worry. Here is a highlight of the best of the best to help you stroll through like a true fashionista.

The New Look

It all started with the Bar dress. The wool afternoon dress with a pleated skirt was part of Christian Dior's Corolla line from his debut collection in 1947. With this dress he created a new look for women that emphasized the hourglass figure with nipped-in waistline, hip padding and mid-length skirt. Dior was credited with reviving Haute Couture Fashion in Paris after World War II.

Office of Dreams
Dior referred to his studio as the "office of dreams." He drew hundreds of sketches, then transformed them into toiles, or cotton muslin mockups, before each collection. These toiles hang high on a wall with a mirrored ceiling that make them look limitless.

Creative Directors
The Creative Directors pays homage to the six creative directors who succeeded Dior after his death in 1957. From Yves Saint Laurent who at 21-years-old introduced a trapezoidal designed dress to John Galliano who introduced an outrageous fantasy style, each director made their mark on the fashion house.

From Paris to the World
The pièce de résistance of the exhibition is the globally inspired "From Paris to the World." Mannequins line the cathedral-like Barrel Vault gallery from floor to ceiling. Visitors walk up and down a catwalk surrounded by 70 mannequins modeling Dior's most famous couture looks from around the world.

"We wanted to build a reverse catwalk where you are walking the catwalk and you are surrounded by this very grand way with 70 plus looks," said DMA's curator, Sarah Schleuning. "There is so much to look at. It is explosive."

The slinky straw green Galliano for Dior dress that Nicole Kidman wore to the Oscars during the Tom Cruise years is on display, as well as the voluminous silk ballgown Jennifer Lawrence wore (and famously tripped over) when accepting her 2013 Best Actress Oscar. Dior Haute Couture's off-white silk taffeta coat and bustier dress that Rihanna wore to the Cannes Film Festival is also on display, along with the gown Lady Gaga recently wore to the SAG Awards. 

Dior: From Paris to the World runs until Sept. 1 at the DMA. Timed tickets are required for all visitors. Adult tickets are $20 Tuesday through Friday and $25 Saturday and Sunday with discounts for seniors, students and military.  Free entry for children 11 years of age and younger. Tickets can be purchased online and advanced reservations are recommended.