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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Christian Dior curator touches on the line between ‘fashion and cultural appropriation’


Fashion is meant to compliment culture, not contradict it, the Curator of Christian Dior’s Designer of Dreams exhibition, Olivier Gabet told Doha News. 

Christian Dior officially opened its one of a kind Designer of Dreams exhibition in Qatar on Saturday, in partnership with Qatar Museums.

The exhibition is the first of its kind for Dior in the Middle East, and is currently taking place at the M7, Doha’s newly launched design and innovation hub in Msheireb Downtown Doha.

The exhibit is the curation of Olivier Gabet, Director of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, who celebrated on Saturday over seven decades of creativity and design with people from global superstars from the fashion world in Doha. 

Designer of Dreams – the first fashion exhibition of its ambition and scale in the region – has been reinvented following impressive showcases at some of the world’s most prestigious museums in Paris, London, Shanghai, and New York. 

The M7 venue is dedicated to showcasing Dior’s unique heritage, featuring a selection of pieces that are being shown for the first time, as well as ensembles from the private collection of Qatar’s Sheikha Moza bint Nasser.  

Designed by Nathalie Crinière and curated by Olivier Gabet especially for Qatar, Christian Dior Designer of Dreams celebrates almost 75 years of creativity and passion for fashion.

Read also: Qatar Museum’s new M7 to boost local fashion, design industry

“The exhibition Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams has captivated audiences around the globe with its stunning design and breathtaking fashion creations,” Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums said.

“Qatar Museums is pleased to present a special presentation of the exhibition in Doha, in collaboration with Dior and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Qatar Museums gives special thanks to Place Vendôme for their generous support as the presenting sponsor of the exhibition,” she added.

“Christian Dior was a true visionary,” Sheikha Al Mayassa continued, “so it is especially meaningful to us that Designer of Dreams is the first major exhibition to open at Qatar Museums’ M7, a creative hub that supports Qatar’s burgeoning fashion and design industries. This inspiring space provides a platform for local talent and supports aspiring and established creative entrepreneurs in Qatar to realise their ambitions.”

The entrance décor resembles the legendary 30 Avenue Montaigne. As visitors enter the exhibition, a selection of silhouettes designed by each of Christian Dior’s successors – Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano, Raf Simons and Maria Grazia Chiuri are showcased. The Bar suit also presents a manifesto of the New Look, designed by Christian Dior for his first collection back in 1947.

“The House’s multiple sources of inspiration – like the sumptuousness of Versailles – are revealed, while the unmissable toile room, a tribute to the savoir-faire of the Ateliers, promotes the excellence of the petites mains. A floral bouquet of timeless elegance, the Miss Dior fragrance blossoms before Maria Grazia Chiuri’s eponymous new haute couture dress for Dior,” QM said in a statement. 

“In the heart of a garden recalling Monsieur Dior’s love of flowers, looks are enhanced by delicate embellishments or poetic prints, like an haute couture herbarium, presented alongside embroidery by Rébé and precious botanical works dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries.”

The Dior spectacular retrospective also features the J’adore section “by a cascade of golden raindrops composed of 3,000 perfume bottles in a creation by the artist Liu Jianhua.”

Over 50 Lady Dior handbags have been reinterpreted for the Dior Lady Art scene, in honour of the brand’s special ambassador, Lady Diana who gave the accessory its iconic status from as far back as 1995. 

The final gallery, a magnificent ballroom inspired by the “kingdom of dreams”, showcases Dior’s special evening gowns and a selection of haute couture ensembles belonging to Sheikha Moza.

Olivier Gabet took visitors on a tour on Saturday showcasing a selection of pieces inspired by different cultures across the globe, which sparked a question on whether Dior was inspired by different cultures or was appropriating them. 

The Dior Around the World section at M7 reflects cultural references for different regions around the world, including Japan, Africa and Asia among others.

For Qatar, traditional religious clothing is significantly integrated in its culture. The Gulf state’s national dress is reflective of its Muslim background, seeing both men and women cover their head and body.

However, Gabet believes that fashion compliments culture rather than contradicts it.  

He said that for Christian Dior, cultural appropriation as an expression would be “irrelevant” because fashion designers proved to be “a bridge between culture.”

“Any fashion house today tries to respond to the concerns of their clients locally and globally,” Gabet told Doha News. 

“The best answer would be the wonderful model Sheikha Moza because the House of Dior worked on a special order for her and adapted to her status,” he added. 

“She is an international figure, she is very much involved in many subjects and the idea was always to properly dress her and respect her status,” he noted, stressing that fashion is adjustable to compliment and represent different cultures across the world in a colourful way. 

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams is sponsored by Place Vendôme and supported by Qatar Airways, as part of the established cultural legacy by Qatar-France 2020 Year of Culture.

Dior’s unique exhibition will be on view at M7 until 30 March 2022.

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