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Exhibition Review – Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at the Victoria and Albert Museum from 2nd February to 14th July 2019

The V&A presents the largest and most comprehensive exhibition ever staged in the UK on the House of Dior and the museum’s biggest fashion exhibition since Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty in 2015. Spanning 1947 to the present day, the exhibition entitled Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams will trace the history and impact of one of the 20th century’s most influential couturiers, and the six artistic directors who have succeeded him.

Based on the major exhibition Christian Dior: Couturier du Rêve, organised by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, the exhibition has been reimagined for the V&A. A brand-new section explores the designer’s fascination with British culture. Dior admired the grandeur of the great houses and gardens of Britain, as well as British-designed ocean liners, including the Queen Mary.

The exhibition is spread across 11 sections and showcases the skill and craftsmanship of those associated with the House of Dior. The exhibition presents over 500 objects with over 200 rare Haute Couture garments shown alongside accessories, fashion photography, film, perfume, make-up, illustrations, magazines, and Christian Dior’s personal possessions.

The first section looks explores Christian Dior’s life from his early career as a gallery owner and the founding of the House of Dior in 1946.

The New Look focuses on Dior’s famed Bar Suit from his ground-breaking first collection in 1947.

The Dior Line showcases ten defining looks made between 1947 and 1957 during Christian Dior’s tenure at the House.

Dior in Britain considers Dior’s love of England and how he held his early Dior fashion shows in country houses and grand hotels around Britain.

Historicism examines the influence of historic dress and decorative arts in the House of Dior’s designs from 1947 to today, Dior had a love of the 18th century, and the Belle Époque fashions.

Travels explores how travel and different countries and cultures have inspired the various designers at the House of Dior.

The Garden highlights the importance of flowers and gardens as a source of inspiration to the House from garments to perfume.

Designers for Dior spotlights the work of the subsequent six key artistic directors since Christian Dior’s death in 1957. Featuring the designs of Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons, and Maria Grazia Chiuri.

The Ateliers showcases toiles from the Dior Ateliers in a unusual ‘cabinet of curiosity’ installation.

Diorama examines the wide range of the House of Dior, from accessories including costume jewellery, hats, shoes and bags.

The Ballroom celebrates the fantasy of the Ball and showcases 70 years of formal evening wear.

This remarkable, comprehensive  exhibition with over 500 objects including over 200 rare Haute Couture garments illustrates how Christian Dior transformed the face of fashion after the war with his New Look and how the House of Christian Dior as been at the forefront of fashion ever since. Dior’s vision included garments, accessories and fragrances, he launched Miss Dior, his first fragrance in 1947. Dior was one of the early pioneers of fashion as a global brand building a luxury fashion empire  built on great design and skills and talent of the Haute Couture ateliers associated with the brand.

The exhibition Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams runs from 2 February – 14 July 2019.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

For more information and tickets, visit the V & A website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in  2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
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The Victoria and Albert Museum announces largest ever Christian Dior exhibition in the UK from 2nd February to 14th July 2019


Yves Saint Laurent in front of Christian Dior London, 11th November 1958. © Popperfoto, Getty Images

In February 2019, the V&A will open the largest and most comprehensive exhibition ever staged in the UK on the House of Dior – the museum’s biggest fashion exhibition since Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty in 2015.

Spanning 1947 to the present day, Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams will trace the history and impact of one of the 20th century’s most influential couturiers, and the six artistic directors who have succeeded him, to explore the enduring influence of the fashion house.

Écarlate afternoon dress, Autumn-Winter 1955 Haute Couture collection, Y line. Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Photo © Laziz Hamani

Based on the major exhibition Christian Dior: Couturier du Rêve, organised by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, the exhibition will be reimagined for the V&A. A brand-new section will, for the first time, explore the designer’s fascination with British culture. Dior admired the grandeur of the great houses and gardens of Britain, as well as British-designed ocean liners, including the Queen Mary. He also had a preference for Savile Row suits. In 1947, he hosted his first UK fashion show at London’s Savoy Hotel, and in 1952 established Christian Dior London. This exhibition will investigate Dior’s creative collaborations with influential British manufacturers, and his most notable British clients, from author Nancy Mitford to ballet dancer Margot Fonteyn.

A highlight will be the Christian Dior dress worn by Princess Margaret for her 21st birthday celebrations, generously on loan from the Museum of London. It will also bring to life Dior’s spectacular fashion shows staged in the UK’s most luxurious stately homes, including Blenheim Palace in 1954.

Pérou short evening dress, Autumn-Winter 1954 Haute Couture collection, H line. Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Gift of Cecil Beaton. Photo © Laziz Hamani

Drawn from the extensive Dior Archives, the exhibition will also showcase highlights from the V&A’s world-class Couture collections, including the iconic Bar Suit, gifted to the museum by the House of Dior in 1960. The exhibition will present over 500 objects, with over 200 rare Haute Couture garments shown alongside accessories, fashion photography, film, perfume, make-up, illustrations, magazines, and Christian Dior’s personal possessions.

The exhibition will highlight Dior’s vision of femininity, encompassing garments, accessories and fragrances. Flowers are emblematic of the Couture House and have inspired silhouettes, embroidery and prints but also the launch of Miss Dior in 1947, the first fragrance created alongside the very first show.

From horticulture to global travel and 18th century decorative arts, the show will reveal the sources of inspiration that defined the House of Dior’s aesthetic. From the daring designs of Yves Saint Laurent to the rational style of Marc Bohan, the flamboyance of Gianfranco Ferré, the exuberance of John Galliano, the minimalism of Raf Simons, and Maria Grazia Chiuri’s feminist vision of fashion, the exhibition will show how each successive artistic director has stayed true to Dior’s vision of Haute Couture, while bringing their own creative sensibilities to the House.

The exhibition Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams runs from 2 February – 14 July 2019. Tickets will go on sale in Autumn 2018.

For more information , visit the V & A website here

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in  2014 , we have attracted thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Display Review : Snowdon: A Life in View at the National Portrait Gallery (26 Sep 2014 – 21 Jun 2015)

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The National Portrait Gallery has opened a gallery display which includes  portraits by Lord Snowdon from the 1950s to the 1990s, the 30 black-and-white portraits are part of the 130 original prints recently gifted to the Gallery.

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It seems appropriate there is a picture of the then Anthony Armstrong Jones by Cecil Beaton, it was Beaton who was at the time the premier Society and Royal photographer, the new upcoming photographer Armstrong Jones would over the next few decades challenge Beaton’s position.

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His Royal pictures of Prince Charles and the Queen and Prince Philip in the 50s were a prequel to actually become a member of the Royal Family when he married Princess Margaret in 1960.

If the now Lord Snowdon’s society contacts was good before the Royal Wedding, afterwards he was in demand from a wide range of publications. In the early 1960s, he  became the artistic adviser of the Sunday Times magazine, and had many of his photographs published in respected publications Vogue and Vanity Fair.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Britain was at the centre of a cultural revolution focused on ‘Swinging London’ but it is interesting in the portraits that many of the old guard  of Britain cultural elite are featured. Vita Sackville West, Graham Greene and Anthony Blunt seem strangely old-fashioned compared to the ‘bright young things’ like Julie Christie, John Hurt ,Terence Stamp and a very young David Bowie.

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It is quite ironic that in many ways Lord Snowdon was more famous than many of the people he was photographing which gave him great access to people and places but people did question his ability as a photographer.

However the  portraits show that he was at the forefront of moving away from the rather stiff official portraits favoured by Beaton towards a more laid back natural approach.
In this way Snowdon was more in tune with the times, the portrait of Maggie Smith photographed with a cigarette and script in hand is a great illustration of this approach.

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Probably to be seen as more than a photographer of the rich and famous, Snowdon worked with The Sunday Times Magazine on a range of documentary subjects from mental health to loneliness. He was also involved with charting the British art world with Private View  a work he undertook with collaboration with John Russell and Bryan Robertson.

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Notwithstanding this work , Snowdon was primarily a chronicler of the British cultural revolution and the gallery is dominated by portraits who are involved in the Arts in some way. Therefore we have portraits of actors such as Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt and Julie Christie, writers such as Nell Dunn, Dame Agatha Christie and Graham Greene and musicians and dancers such as George Melly, Sir Anthony Dowell and Dame Margot Fonteyn. Figures from the art world include Anthony Blunt, Henry Moore and Dame Barbara Hepworth, Lord Kenneth Clarke and John Piper.

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The Anthony Blunt photograph stands out for a number of reasons, Blunt is innocently looking at a negative of a painting but his subsequent exposure as a spy for the Soviet Union  offers a potentially more sinister interpretation.

This display at the National Portrait Gallery offers an interesting perspective on Britain in transition by a photographer whose career and life was extraordinary to say the least.

One great aspect of the National Portrait Gallery is that these often relatively small, self-contained free displays are perfect to visit if you pushed for time and perhaps have only an hour or so to spare.

Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended

If you want to find out more , visit the National Portrait Gallery website here 

London Visitors is the official blog for the Visiting London Guide .com website. The website was developed to bring practical advice and latest up to date news and reviews of events in London.
Since our launch in January, we attract thousands of readers each month, the site is constantly updated.
We have sections on Museums and Art Galleries, Transport, Food and Drink, Places to Stay, Security, Music, Sport, Books and many more.
There are also hundreds of links to interesting articles on our blog.
To find out more visit the website here

Great London Pubs – The Prospect of Whitby

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The Prospect of Whitby

Location – 57 Wapping Wall, Wapping, London, E1W 3SH

The Prospect of Whitby in Wapping is one of the most famous pubs in London, its origins was a simple tavern on the site in 1520.
However it was in the 17th century that it became known as a meeting place for smugglers and river pirates, it was at this time known as the ‘Devil’s Tavern’. It is also claimed that patrons watched the hanging of pirates at the nearby Execution Dock from its balcony.
In recognition of this claim there now stands a noose and gallows outside the back of the pub overlooking the Thames.

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In the 18th Century the Devil’s Tavern burnt down and the tavern was rebuilt and renamed the ‘Prospect of Whitby’ after a ship that was moored nearby.

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In the 19th century it became a place where artists used for a vantage point for their paintings of the Thames, Whistler and Turner amongst others painted many pictures of Wapping.
Famous customers have included Samuel Pepys and Charles Dickens, however in the 20th Century it became the pub of choice for many celebrities and famous people.
In the 1950s Princess Margaret was a regular visitor and the pub became a regular stop on the tourist trail.

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It is still very popular and caters for a wide range of clientele, perhaps not the old river workers or seaman who once plied their trade on the river outside but a nice variety of visitors.

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Although the pub building is mostly 18th century, its original flagstone floor, wooden barrels, pewter bar, odd shaped alcoves and large terrace with great views of the river are very atmospheric of days of smugglers and pirates.

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The pub is owned by the Taylor Walker who offer a wide range of real ales and serve mostly standard British fare such as Fish and Chips.

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