the must-see Dior exhibition, closes 7 January 2018


a Dior model, 1957

Oftentimes I find myself craving art (and beauty.) In this world of brutes and atrocity, it’s important to nourish the soul, to uplift and inspire it. Thank goodness for art, artists and art museums. Can you imagine a world without art? It would be a dark and desolate place … a sort of Trumpland, bleak and vacuous.


Dior Haute Couture 2008 – Shot by Patrick Demarchelier

I’ve just seen the Irving Penn photography exhibition at the Grand Palais. Next week I’ll visit the Dior exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. There’s also the new Yves Saint Laurent museum to see.


Dior, the Spring-Summer collection, 1948

Growing up, the fashion world was familiar to me. My journalist mother wrote for STYLE, a Maclean Hunter trade publication, where she eventually had her own column. In later years she was fashion editor for a number of Canadian consumer magazines. Yearly, she attended the prêt-à-porter collections in Paris. On occasion I accompanied her. But the best part of having a fashionista mom was visiting the showrooms and ateliers of designers in Montreal and Toronto who received publicity from her double-page fashion features. As a teenager I was gifted with gorgeous outfits and accessories (far too sophisticated for my suburban high school clique!)


I love this. Flannel Dior suit, 1950, photographed by Irving Penn

Christian Dior was more than an artist. He was a postwar fashion visionary and a designer of dreams. He gave back glamour and beauty to women starved of both during the war years under German occupation. He made it possible for women to be fashionable again. Admired by contemporaries such as Balmain and Balenciaga and despised by Chanel, designers everywhere copied him. With his debut haute couture show in 1947, Dior achieved the twin feats of redefining women’s style and re-establishing Paris as the center of the fashion universe.


Dior’s first Peplum in 1947


His “New Look” in 1947 was characterized by cinched waists, full skirts and an extravagant use of fabric that contrasted sharply with the sober styles of the ration era. It was intended as a celebration of femininity and the return of abundance.

Through the 1950s, Dior’s collections followed a particular theme. The Tulip line of 1953 was typified by floaty, floral prints, and two years later the A-Line collection showed a new silhouette whereby the skirt widened out over the hips and legs to resemble a capital A. Dior’s popularity was unrivaled across Europe and the United States.

On October 23, 1957, he died suddenly of a heart attack while on holiday in Italy. Some say it was brought on by choking on a fish bone, others blame a game of cards or a fit of lovemaking. A private plane was sent to Italy to bring the body back to Paris. He was only 52 years old.

His death led to chaos. The closure of the company was considered for a time but ultimately deemed too damaging to the French fashion industry. Instead, the 21-year-old Yves Saint Laurent was promoted to Artistic Director of the house he had joined just two years earlier.


1905 – 1957

Located beside the Louvre on the rue de Rivoli, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs is closed Mondays and open late (until 10 pm) on Thursdays.

big Bauhaus exhibition

THE SPIRIT OF BAUHAUS, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris

from 19 October 2016 to 26 February 2017

You might think of Bauhaus as a style, or maybe a school of thought. But Bauhaus was an actual school: an institute of design that gave some of history’s most important designers a grounding in aesthetics that continues to influence the way our world looks and works. Called the Staatliches Bauhaus, the school existed in Germany from 1919 to 1933. It was based first in Weimar until 1925, then Dessau through 1932, and then Berlin in its final months. Suspected of publishing anti-Nazi propaganda and documents linking Bauhaus to the Communist party, the school was closed indefinitely in 1933 when the Nazis came to power.


While its instruction was deeply devoted to functionality, it was among the first to set out and prove that functional need not be boring. Founded in 1919 in Weimar, Germany by the prominent architect Walter Gropius, Bauhaus ended up as the most influential modernist art school of the 20th century. It was defined as a utopian craft guild combining industrial design, architecture, sculpture and painting into a single creative expression.

Long after it closed, Bauhaus had a major impact both in Europe and the United States. It was shaped by the 19th and early 20th centuries trends such as the Arts and Crafts movement, which had sought to level the distinction between fine and applied arts, and to reunite creativity and manufacturing. The school is also renowned for its faculty, which included artists Wassily Kandinsky, Josef Albers, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Paul Klee and Johannes Itten, architects Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and designer Marcel Breuer.

The Bauhaus school produced some of the most significant design pieces that have stood the test of time, influencing generations of designers. Here are a few of the most iconic and timeless of Bauhaus design.


Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich – The Barcelona Chair (1929)


Wilhelm Wagenfeld – The Bauhaus Lamp (1924)


Marcel Breuer – The Cesca Chair (1927)


Marianne Brandt – The Tea Infuser (1924)


Josef Albers – Nesting Tables

Opening on Wednesday October 19th, a large exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs will pay homage to this artistic movement by displaying original Bauhaus pieces and celebrating the wide-ranging fruits of the influential art and architecture school. No fewer than 900 works and objects from the creative phenomenon will be displayed…

Musée des Arts Décoratifs

107, rue de Rivoli (beside the Louvre)

closed Mondays