Paris Adventures: Christian Dior, Couturier Du Réve part 1

I was so lucky to be able to see the exhibit Christian Dior, Couturier Du Réve  at the Les Arts Décoratifs Paris.   Beware this blog post is photo intense, be patient as it takes less time than the flight to Pairs.    The exhibit runs through January 7, 2018.  This is a must see wonderland of couture.    But to avoid the long line, book your ticket online in advance.  The link is here:  it is only in French, but it is well worth the time savings.  This is a very popular exhibit so the crowds are capacity controlled.  Also most of the exhibit is dark, so unless you have a camera that does well in low light, your ability to take photos will be limited.    However, if you can’t make the exhibit, the exhibit catalog is available as a “coffee table” book.  It weighs over 7 pounds!  The book is available in multiple languages, the English version is sold on Amazon.  Even if you attend the exhibit the anniversary book adds so much additional history and photos it is well worth the purchase.  Just buy it here as it is way to heavy to transport in luggage!

Let me just say that I am not one to be on the designer bandwagon.  I don’t buy products (handbags, eyeglasses, perfume) just because they have a designer’s name emblazoned on the product.  But I was overwhelmed in this exhibit by the creativity, the beauty and the skill of these creations and of the magic of the exhibit itself.

The theme is the anniversary of 70 years of fashion by the House of Dior.  The exhibit spaces is over 3200 square feet and includes over 400 haute couture garments by Dior and his successors.  It is one of the only exhibits I have attended where there were audible gasps of wonder as attendees walked from room to magic room.  There are original sketches, art borrowed from museums around the world, photographs by all of the leading fashion photographers,  lights, music, video clips all of it blending to the experience that is this Dior exhibit.   The best part of the entire exhibit – if I were forced to choose – were the demonstration by Dior ateliers.  My first visit, the demonstration was on the inner construction of the Bar suit.  The iconic cream peplum jacket  that epitomizes the “New Look”.  The suit is the first thing you see when you go to the 2nd half of the exhibit.  A later exhibit features all of the Dior designers, but to give you a quick timeline:  Christian Dior (1947-1957)- Yves Saint Laurent (1957-1960), Marc Bohan (1960-1989), Gianfranco Ferré (1989-1997), John Galliano (1997-2011), Raf Simons (2012-2015) and Maria Grazia Chiuri (2016- ).


The exhibit starts with a history of the House of Dior, and then the history of Christian Dior the man behind the couture house.   And then moves to a large room where huge famous photos disappear and the dresses are displayed.   Princess Margaret on her 21st birthday in the 1951 haute couture evening gown designed for her; Richard Avedon’s  Dovima with Elephants – transitioning to the Fall-Winter 1955 Soirée de Paris dress and  ‘Zemire’ modeled by Dior house model Renee. Paris, 1954. Photograph by Regina Relang with Eifiel tower in the background. (the dress is red)

Next up – fashion inspired by art (here are just a few in this section of the exhibit)  Here is a link to a different exhibit but the the same idea.

2005 Haute Couture gown inspired by Madame Charles Max in Giovanni Boldini’s 1896 portrait
Raf Simmons Fall-Winter 2012 Haute Couture gowns inpired by Sterling Ruby ‘- Shadow Print


Galliano inspired by Picasso ensemble — Painting by André Derain

The next section is probably my second most favorite – everything arranged by color.    Scaled garments, handbags, hats, perfume, jewelry, drawings,footwear  – all falling together forming an amazing color wheel.  The crowds in this section where packed (and it was hot!) visit now when Paris is cool and tourists are hopefully back in their homes.


Yes there is so much more –  stay tuned for more beauty!!!


London – Food, Fabric, Sightseeing

London June and July 2017

Two different short trips to the capital of England and the UK.   I think this was probably my fifth trip to London, so I did skip the top of the tourist list spots.  While walking in Hyde Park (Home of Kensington Palace and the Diana Memorial Fountain) we discovered the Food Night Market.   I love this description of the event from the Evening Standard Walkways festooned with lights lead the way to a covered, cloistered seating area, with a clear plastic roof for starlit nights, and a multicoloured “umbrella roof” for earlier in the day. Around the market, red telephone boxes are decked out as powder rooms and takeaway libraries, while scattered Eden Project-style mini domes make the perfect reclusive date spots. 

In true London fashion, it rained.  Not the Texas “frog-strangler” type of rain, but drizzly, chilly Texas fall weather rain.  It didn’t dampen our hunger, or the fun.  Especially considering we signed up for the Kettle One Bloody Mary master class.  In addition to making one of those we finished the class with a chocolate creme coffee vodka cocktail.

Be like a local – dress in layers and always carry an umbrella!

My sightseeing this trip included a visit to the Sherlock Holmes Museum 

It is kitchsy, but I did get a picture with this pretend bobby.

Sherlock Holmes Museum 221 B Baker Street

Unlike the tight security at Buckingham palace changing of the guard.  Notice the real police force with machine guns politely shooing (not shooting) tourists that wander too close to the gate.  With recent events I did see a greater police presence in London and every European city.  Here is the schedule to see the event for your self.   Realize that there will be a crowd and a fence, so go and enjoy the beautiful park and your small glimpse of the action.    Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace encompasses colourful spectacle and British pageantry. The ceremony lasts about 45 minutes between 11.00-11.45am on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from January to March, weather permitting.


Changing of the guard – Buckingham Palace

When visiting any where, I always compare – what is the same at home, what is different.   I LOVE the walk sign in Trafalger Square.  Nope, equality isn’t something you see on our street corners.

I did find an amazing exhibit of a tapestry commissioned by the weaver’s guild.  This artistic collaboration between artist Chris Ofili and the guild was simply breathtaking.  See the huge tapestry as well as a close up of the weaving that re creates the texture of the original watercolor.

Fabric shopping this trip has no pictures to protect the guilty.  But I did bring home some Liberty London cotton, and some bargains from Goldhawk Road.  While in London be sure to catch a play or performance in the West End.  We saw Motown the Musical, it was fabulous.  The Victoria and Albert is not to be missed, there is almost always a special fashion and/or culture exhibit.   For easy transport around the city, get a tourist Oyster card.  London is an easy city to walk and access via the “tube”.  Just don’t forget to “mind the gap”.

Cheers –  Markita