The legendary French fashion designer Christian Dior said of his fresh, post-World War II silhouette: "“I have designed flower women.”
On February 12, 1947, Dior debuted a collection, the "New Look" - soft shoulders, cinched waist, accentuated hips, and long full skirts. The study in femininity punctuated by luxury textiles and romantic embroideries was the perfect antidote to wartime gris and masculinity. The trend's roaring success sparked a style revolution that inspired women's fashions throughout the 1950s and built the global fashion brand, House of Dior.
“After women, flowers are the most lovely thing God has given the world.”
So it is very fitting that for the launch of the Christian Dior exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum, presented by Holt Renfrew, a flower woman was on display. Modelled after Dior's famous Autriche evening dress from his Autumn-Winter 1951 collection, the arresting mannequin created by Fleur de Villes was adorned with thousands of roses, orchids and other blooms.
The exhibition celebrates the first decade of design by Christian Dior and draws from the ROM's permanent Textiles and Fashions collection and is a timely celebration of the House of Dior's 70th anniversary. Focusing on Dior's foundational haute couture years from 1947 to 1957, the exhibition features more than 100 objects, including 38 designs arranged thematically - daytime (coats, suits and day dresses), late afternoon to evening (cocktails and dinner dresses) and evening wear (ball and formal gowns).
The garments have mostly been donated to the collection by Toronto and Montreal socialites of the period. It is an exquisite glimpse into the post-war cultural scene and the dresses are stunning.