Sunday 1 September 2019


Christian Dior was a pioneer in the fragrance world, believing no gown was complete without a spritz of perfume. He insisted that the Dior salons were sprayed with his signature fragrance before his shows started, so his clients could benefit from the complete Christian Dior experience. And like Charles Worth, before him, he recognised the importance of gifting fragrance to his loyal Haute Couture customers.  

His heady scents, limited-edition bottles and packaging, plus inspiring fragrance and beauty campaigns by fashion illustrator Rene Gruau, play a pivotal role in the V&A's blockbuster exhibition, Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams and tell the story of the launch of Mis Dior in 1947 and the many more fragrance and beauty developments instigated by the eponymous designer and his successors.

From the inspiring wall of vintage and modern magazine covers depicting Christian Dior Haute Couture, RTW and beauty, to the room dedicated to fragrance and flowers, the V&A's exhibition is an ode to fashion to perfume. 

Cover look: The scarlet Florentine coat by Christian Dior Haute Couture AW53 illustrated by
Rene Bouche for British Vogue January 1954, price 3/6


How fabulous was the V&A's Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition?

I visited the show five times during its extended run and each time I saw something more extraordinary or learnt something else about the venerable fashion house. I also enjoyed taking friends to see the exhibition and watching their reactions to this spectacle of fashion, beauty, fragrance and history.

As the show closes, here are a few of my favourite images that highlight the story behind the House of Dior:

Christian Dior in his atelier with model Sylvie, circa 1948 Courtesy of Christian Dior

Christian Dior in his atelier with his leading house model Lucky, circa 1955 Courtesy of Christian Dior

Sunday 27 January 2019


Fashioned from Nature, at the Victoria & Albert Museum, explores the relationship between fashion and nature from the 1600 to present day. It is one of those shows that really demands several visits to truly appreciate the inspiring, innovative and also disturbing and potentially devastating effects of fashion on the environment; all interlaced with a message of hope and a concerted effort to create a brighter future for the clothing industry and the consumer. 

Speaking at the opening of the show, curator Edwina Ehrman, explained that, 'I've been a curator for over 30 years and I've always wanted to do an exhibition that interacts with nature. Everything we wear, and have always worn, comes from the earth. 

'I had a sense that we are at a tipping point,' continued Ehrman, 'And I felt that the exhibition needed to reflect that and to link the past, present and future.' 

The mix of over 300 pieces, includes early 1700's embroideries, intricate couture from Paul Poiret, Alix (Madame Grèsand Christian Dior, revolutionary designs by Katharine Hamnett and Vivienne Westwood, plus pioneering modern-day items by Stella McCartney, Calvin Klein and G-Star RAW

With the focus on how each exhibit has been produced, the exhibition sets out to explore what we can learn from the fashion practises of the past and how innovative new fabrics, such as mycelium leather, derived from mushrooms, and grape leather can be utilised in the future.

'This is the first exhibition to put fashion sustainability in this context,' said Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A, at the show opening, 'It brings together both exquisite and unsettling pieces from the V&A collection, including Vita Sackville-West's beautiful embroidered cape, which is my favourite exhibit.'

Drawn from Nature: The monkeys decorating this fashionable waistcoat were copied from 
illustrations in the Comte de Buffon's multi-volume encyclopedia Natural History, 1749-88. 
Man’s embroidered waistcoat with a pattern of 
macaque monkeys, silk and linen, France, 1780–89 
Image: Vee Speers © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Woven silk train for an evening dress, France or Britain, c.1897-1905
Image: Vee Speers © V&A