Look Back in Awe at 70 Years of Dior

It’s hard for us now, given the size of today’s fashion market, to imagine the seismic impact that Christian Dior made back in 1947. He redefined the curves and lines of a woman’s silhouette, he took thrilling risks, created waves of excitement, reinvented the rules of fashion—he changed everything. Permanently. The irony is that he didn’t set out to do this at all—his desire was to return fashion to pre-war Parisian femininity, but he found himself being hailed as a revolutionary!

For nearly seven decades the house has worked with Swarovski to create designs that shine in new ways and looks that live on as art. Now, Swarovski is partnering with Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris for a spectacular retrospective: Christian Dior, Couturier du Rêve (“Designer of Dreams”). On view until January 7, 2018, the show breathes life into Dior’s many breakthroughs, framing more than 300 haute couture gowns alongside accessories and jewelry in the art galleries, street scenes, and gardens where the legendary founder drew his inspiration.

The exhibition also offers a chronological take on the fashion house’s evolution and its influence on style. Beginning with the wide skirt and trim waist of the post-war era that launched Dior’s iconic New Look, it winds its way to the present day. If you’re a design lover, you’ll get a kick out of walking the line of illustrious creative directors who followed Dior himself: from Yves Saint Laurent to John Galliano to Raf Simons, the evolution unfolds before your eyes.

Shining throughout is the iconic Aurora Borealis effect, developed in 1956 by Manfred Swarovski and Christian Dior. The dazzling light show created by a thin layer of metal coated onto faceted crystal evokes the natural beauty of the Northern Lights, and started a craze for Dior’s shimmering gowns and jewelry.

The show doesn’t skimp on the latest styles, either: part of the drama centers on the newest creative director—the first woman to call the shots at Dior: Maria Grazia Chiuri. Her feminism-inflected looks have already graced the runway at Fashion Week, and will dictate the future of the label. Combining original art, photography and sketches with hundreds of breathtakingly beautiful gowns, this show is a stunner. Take a break in Paris and soak up some fashion history.

Christian Dior, Couturier du Rêve is on view at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris from now until January 7, 2018.