Christian Dior experienced just one great ambition: to make women of all ages “not just more wonderful, but also happier.”

The Paris-based mostly fashion designer debuted his haute couture line in 1947, and his sophisticated nipped-waistline jackets and extravagantly voluminous skirts sparked a feeling following the grim austerity of Globe War II.

“The world is incredibly complete of lovely gals whose styles and tastes provide an inexhaustible range,” the couturier described in his 1956 autobiography, “Dior by Dior.” “My collection ought to cater individually for every single 1 of them.”

On its face, the concept that a couture designer can cater to everyone in the entire world is ludicrous. (Flavor apart, a custom frock costs hundreds of countless numbers of bucks.) However, a new exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum exhibits that Dior sincerely believed it.  

The gown Jennifer Lawrence wore to the 2013 Oscars is among the finery on exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum exhibition “Christian Dior: Designer of Goals.”
Stefano Giovannini

“Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams,” at the Brooklyn Museum by means of Feb. 20, explores additional than 70 several years at the vogue label. (Dior died in 1957, and the brand name has experienced 6 designers considering the fact that, including Yves Saint Laurent, John Galliano and Maria Grazia Chiuri, who is now in cost.) The display incorporates much more than 200 garments — like gowns worn by Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly and Princess Diana — as properly as shots, drawings, extras and other artifacts that exhibit the seductive power of this rarefied couture property.

Elizabeth Taylor took home the Best Actress Oscar for "Butterfield 8" in 1961 clad in a Dior gown, on view at the exhibit.
Elizabeth Taylor took household the Very best Actress Oscar for “Butterfield 8” in 1961 clad in a Dior gown, now on look at at the show.
Alamy Inventory Photograph

“At the founding of the Christian Dior [brand, he] talked about the fact that he was earning apparel for a variety of females,” Brooklyn Museum’s Matthew Yokobosky — who curated the clearly show with historian Florence Müller — instructed The Post. He produced females truly feel specific, liked — and not just through his clothing. At every of his salons, he experienced versions of distinct skin tones and human body forms, so when a consumer frequented, she could see the clothing on a lady who resembled her. He allowed “you to visualize you in his garments,” Yokobosky included.

Dior made its debut in February 1947, and American trend editors swooned. Carmel Snow of Harper’s Bazaar heralded his wasp-waisted, entire-skirted silhouette as “the new look” right after decades of small hemlines due to material shortages and war-motivated military services-style jackets. Younger American photographers, these types of as Richard Avedon and Gordon Parks, shot his luxurious outfits out on the avenue, supplying them an appealing informal glamour.

By the time he produced his very first trip to the US, afterwards that slide, Dior was a star.

“When he would get into a taxi cab, the driver would identify him and say, ‘Are skirt hemlines likely up or down?’ ” Yokobosky stated. “Even adult males have been having these conversations with him.”

Marlene Dietrich in Dior in "Stage Fright"
Marlene Dietrich wore the designer in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Stage Fright,” and informed the director “No Dior, no Dietrich” when he first needed her to play the role.
© Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

Not everybody embraced the Frenchman: a team of girls, contacting them selves the “Little Below the Knee Club,” picketed his arrival in Chicago with indications declaring “Mr. Dior, we abhor hemlines to the ground.” 

Dior, even so, won the country around, thanks in section to a gaggle of Hollywood fans, these as Grace Kelly and Marlene Dietrich. The feeling was mutual. Astounded by the speed and effectiveness of Seventh Avenue brands, he opened Christian Dior-New York, to provide considerably less pricey, much less fussy versions of his couture confections, noticed in the exhibit.

A selection of dresses at the Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum
Impressed by Dior’s like of blooms, the museum reworked its Beaux Arts Court into an “enchanted garden” to showcase the brand’s floral frocks, like an exuberant strapless costume from Gianfanco Ferré’s 1994 collection.
Stefano Giovannini

The clearly show demonstrates how his successors have up to date Dior’s legacy soon after his death. Saint Laurent introduced leather jackets in the late ’50s Gianfranco Ferré introduced postmodern glitz in the ’80s. Galliano tapped into the founder’s love of fantasy and romance in the late ’90s and early 2000s, although Chiuri has provided the brand a far more feminist spin. What has remained of Dior’s preliminary eyesight, and what shines most in this stunning exhibition, is that means to make a female aspiration of a extra beautiful, extra wonderful, additional stunning life — just by means of style.

“It’s placing femininity on a pedestal,” reported Müller, about the brand’s enduring enchantment. “To be very pleased of remaining a woman, and currently being happy of each component of it. That is Dior.” 

More dresses at the Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum
Maria Grazia Chiuri has infused Dior’s signature femininity with lightness, as seen in this quartet of diaphanous chiffon and lace gowns.
Stefano Giovannini