Tag Archive | Vogue

J’adore Dior

When I think of Dior I think of femininity, luxury and class.  When Dior launched his first collection in 1947, he created The New Look – the hour glass silhouette.  The press dubbed the collection The New Look because of its revolutionary nature.  In contrast to wartime boxy styles, his designs emphasised the curves of the female body.

Born in 1905, Dior retrained as a fashion artist in 1935.  Tragically, he died of a heart attack in 1957, just ten years after the launch of his first collection, however the legacy left by Dior continues to inspire some seven decades later, through the six artistic directors that have succeeded him in the fashion house.


The V&A’s biggest fashion exhibition since Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty in 2015 Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, has been a sell out for the London Museum, leading them to extend the exhibition for a further two months until 1 September 2019.  The exhibition was inspired by the Christian Dior: Couturier du Rêve in Paris and also explores the designer’s fascination with British culture.  Dior is quoted as saying: “There is no other country in the world, besides my own, whose way of life I like so much.”  He was fascinated by England’s great houses, ocean liners, Savile Row tailoring and royalty.  He often showed his collections in grand country houses, such as Blenheim Palace in 1954 in aid of the British Red Cross.

I had long anticipated the release of tickets for this exhibition and finally got to visit in March with my friend.  For the visit I wore a red t-shirt from Topshop with J’adore on the front to emulate an actual Dior t-shirt worn by Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City Movie 2.

I paired the t-shirt with a black satin, bias cut skirt from New Look.  A similar skirt produced by Topshop was an Instagram sensation and therefore a sell out.  The weather still being somewhat chilly, I also wore my trusty New Look faux leather biker jacket that is one of my go to pieces.  To really set the outfit off, I wore black suede heels that I purchased in Belgium some years back and accessorised with an Asos bag which I thought had a look of a Dior saddle bag and actually appeared in Fabulous magazine sometime after I had purchased it.  The only true Dior I wore was my mascara, Diorshow which I can’t rate highly enough.  A lady on the tube commented on how beautiful my shoes were but after a whole day in London in them, I can assure you I was using a rather different word to describe them!


The exhibition has over 500 objects, including over 200 rare Haute Couture outfits, displayed with accessesories, original drawings, perfumes, magazines and photographs.  The exhibition is set out over different themed rooms and is a display of absolute beauty, curated perfectly to take you on the Dior artistic journey.  It looks at where Dior found inspiration for his designs from the eighteenth century, to travel to gardens.

The entrance to the exhibition looks at Dior’s life and then focuses on The New Look, particularly the bar suit, acquired by the V&A in 1960 and considered to be a key piece of his first collection, reimagined subsequently by many artistic directors.

Dior in Britain’s main attraction was the dress designed by Dior for Princess Margaret to wear in her 21st birthday portrait in 1951.  Dior said of the princess: “she was a real fairy princess, delicate, graceful and exquisite.  The same adjectives could be used to describe Dior’s own creations.

The next room is historicism and looks at the influence of the eighteenth century on Dior and subsequent artistic directors.

Christian Dior enjoyed travel and took inspiration from art, landscapes and architecture in different countries.  The Travel room looks at how travel inspired his, and future designs of the fashion house. My favourite outfits in the room are shown below.  On the left an Egyptian inspired piece by Christian Dior – John Galliano and part of the Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2004 collection.  This is purely art, if totally unwearable.  On the right, the dress was for the Tokyo presentation of the 2017 Spring-Summer haute couture collection and I just adore this Christian Dior – Maria Grazia Chiuri creation, which with the trailing cherry blossom, encompasses the femininity of Dior.

The next room was by far my favourite, The Garden, and I could have spent hours in there.  It truly felt like a secret garden, which is exactly the feel Maria Grazia Chiuri wanted to create in the Musee Rodin where she displayed her first couture collection, as homage to Dior’s love of gardens.  Flowers influenced both Dior’s designs and his wonderful perfumes.  He would often sketch in the garden and as a boy he loved to study his mother’s plant catalogues.  Dior said: “After women, flowers are the most divine of creations.”  The room was simply magical.  The centre piece gown, seen top right in the below collection of photos is Christian Dior – Maria Grazia Chiuri and part of the Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2017 collection.  The detail is phenomenal with the petal-like decoration created using layers of dyed feathers.

The centre bottom photo of the collection above is a dress by Dior – Raf Simons and part of the Haute Couture Autumn-Winter 2012.  The dress was worn by Natalie Portman as the face of the Miss Dior perfume.  The bottom right picture of the above collection shows to the far right a dress by Christian Dior – John Galliano, which was part of the Haute Couture Autumn-Winter 2010 collection  and is hand painted silk, clinched at the waste by a green bow representative of garden twine.

The Ateliers room demonstrates how test garments are made in white cotton fabric so the fit and shape of the design can be checked before making it in the actual fabric and adding embellishments.


The exhibition concludes with The Ballroom which was where Dior could really allow his imagination to run free and showcase extravagance.  Dior once said that: “evening clothes are the most glamorous and fascinating things a woman can have as the evening is the time when you escape the realities of life.”   This room was really atmospheric with relaxing music and lighting moving it between day and night.

The dress to the bottom right of the collection above is Christian Dior and part of the Haute Couture Autumn-Winter 1949 collection was embroidered with thousands of shimmering sequins and has to be one of his stand out pieces.

The final dress we see is the below creation by Christian Dior – Maria Grazia Chiuri and was part of the Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2018 collection. The inspiration for the dress was an original 1950 hand-painted fan by Christian Dior, held by the mannequin.  Having his signature embroidered in the skirt is symbolic of his lasting legacy.


If you can get to the exhibition, I highly recommend it.  Additional exhibition tickets will be released on the 15th day of each month for the month ahead and limited tickets are available to purchase daily at the museum on a first come, first served basis.  Dior remains one of the greatest designers and his creations are often seen both on the red carpet and in the fashion magazines.


The shop at the V&A also has an impressive range of books on the designer and souvenir drawings, photos and stationery from the exhibition.


Sadly my finances will probably only ever extend to the makeup and perfume of the fashion house, but his influence can often be found in high street designs.  He was a true God of the fashion world.  Long may his legacy continue.

En Vogue

Vogue magazine takes its name from the French phrase ‘en vogue’, meaning ‘in fashion/style’.  Vogue started life in 1892 in USA as a weekly newspaper with the intended audience being the American aristocracy; America had glamour and showmanship but wanted to emulate Britain’s class and style.  The title may have been a consequence of the fact that during that time, both the USA and Britain looked to Paris for their fashion guidance.  Condé Nast bought Vogue in 1905 and changed it to a bi-weekly publication. It was as late as 1973 that it became a monthly publication.

The British edition of Vogue was first published in autumn 1916, so celebrates 100 years this year.  To mark the centenary, the National Portrait Gallery London has organised an exhibition entitled ‘Vogue 100: A Century of Style’ which runs from 11th February – 22nd May 2016.  The exhibition consists of some 280 prints from the Conde Nast archive and international collections.  The show is a who’s who of photographers, models and celebrities over the last century.  There have been over 1500 issues of Vogue to date and still it remains the authority on fashion.

Claudia Schiffer - Herb Ritts resized.jpg

Claudia Schiffer in Paris by Herb Ritts, 1989 ©Herb Ritts Foundation/Trunk Archive

For the exhibition I wore a navy long sleeve butterfly dress from Asos with a leather biker jacket from New Look to contrast with the girly butterflies and give the outfit an edge.  My shoes were some Mary Jane black patent shoes which I got in the Oasis sale and I absolutely adore the gold detail on the heels.  To match the shoes I accessorised with a beautiful gold and black box clutch from Aldo.  I had been admiring a very similar one from Biba but this one was a great find at half the price.  In my hair I had a navy suede alice band, the inspiration for which came from Chanel’s autumn/winter 2015 catwalk where the black ribbon was worn by their models. Ribbon always slides out of my hair so the alice band is a great alternative to achieve the same look. I also sported this trend in Hong Kong with a black leather alice band see previous blog.



BIBA version of clutch

Spot the difference?


black patent shoes

The exhibition was laid out with a room for each decade from the magazine’s birth up to the current day.  Many original images were used – with rips and scribbles to prove it.  The earliest surviving vogue print was one of an heiress to a Philadelphia banking fortune which featured in the third issue. There was also a long room which had laid out a copy of an issue from each year of Vogue’s production along with iconic images of models over the years displayed on the walls.  Vogue magazine has evolved over the decades and has seen some of the greatest defining fashion eras; the roaring 20’s, swinging 60’s and punk rock to name a few; what Vogue doesn’t know about fashion isn’t worth knowing and it is now considered by many to be “the fashion bible”.  Celebrities are desperate to feature on the cover.  As well as the exhibition being a tribute to fashion over the last century it is also a great overview of the key historical events in Britain with the tribute issue to each of the deaths of George VI, Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana.  Cecil Beaton who proved to be a great asset to Vogue following his first published photo in 1924, covered the coronation of the Queen in July 1953.

There is somewhat of a lack of imagery from the early war years as in 1942 Vogue recycled the majority of its photographic prints to help the war effort.  Vogue was however vital to the morale of the home front and there were in depth reports about the war, showing a more serious side to Vogue.  The depth of report was not seen again until 1993 when Marie Colvin revisited post war Baghdad.  Post WWII, Norman Parkinson’s photos re-emphasised traditional values and signalled that the nation could once again think of prosperity.


Fashion is Indestructible by Cecil Beaton, 1941 © The Condé Nast Publications Ltd

Early editions of Vogue came with patterns for women to make clothes but as the art of dress making lost its popularity and people had a greater disposable income to use in shops, these disappeared.

In 1953 Vogue revealed a new fashion demographic in the young and developed ‘Young Idea’ pages.  This youth culture strengthened through the 50’s and 60’s and in 1955 Mary Quant and Alexander Plunket opened a boutique in Chelsea aimed specifically at the young, called Green Bazaar.  Mary Quant claims to have launched the mini skirt in the 1960’s, named after her favourite car and later popularised hot pants.  The 1960’s were a classless period.  For Vogue, David Bailey became another prominent photographer at this time which is much attributed to his special relationship to the model Jean Shrimpton.

Vogue is known for its firsts – with 1966 seeing Vogue use the first black cover model.  Vogue’s first colour cover was as early as 1932 by Edward Steichen and Vogue led the field with the finest quality colour pages.  Vogue.co.uk was launched in 1996 and the first digital issue of the magazine was launched for iPad in 2010.  In 1936 there was a shoot called ‘April comes to Paris’, which saw fashions modelled in the streets of Paris rather than in a studio and it was novelty to see clothes in everyday situations.  It’s interesting to see how fashion photography has changed with the advent of airbrushing and Photoshop.  There was a print at the exhibition of a swimsuit shoot in 1930’s and you can clearly see it was shot on a cold day as the model has goose bumps on her legs – something they would never show nowadays.

The magazine featured Christian Dior’s first collection in 1947.  In 1939 there was an interesting spread entitled ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a waist’ showing the love affair Britain had with the corset. August 1994 saw the explosion of the Kate Moss phenomenon – an ordinary girl from Croydon and turned fashion on its head, changing the way we saw beauty and style.

My favourite cover was July 1926, Vogue constellation by Eduardo Benito and I was able to purchase a print of it in the store.

Following a couple of great hours spent immersed in the exhibition – my friend and I decamped to the gallery restaurant that overlooks Trafalgar square.  Despite the rain it was a lovely view of London and we enjoyed afternoon tea with a champagne cocktail each.




The first man to feature on the cover of UK Vogue was Manolo Blahnik in 1974.  Manolo Blahnik opened a new boutique in Burlington Arcade – only the second shop in the UK on 3rd Feb this year. I tried to get to the opening night cocktail evening but unfortunately it was already fully booked.  Would have been great to get a couple of quotes from him directly as my blog is named after him.  I did however visit the new store after the Vogue exhibition and it truly is a little bit of heaven.  I was almost intimidated by the luxury of the store and was anxious that my shoes, wet from the drizzle might mark the soft cream carpet.  I need not have felt anxious however as on entering the store, the staff couldn’t have been more helpful.  A lovely guy in purple Manolo’s showed us around the store. I pointed out my lovely wedding shoes as worn by Carrie in Sex and the City and he asked if I had worn them since.  He thought it hilarious when I replied only in the house and said ‘some people have slippers, you have Manolo’s!’  The store appears to be quite small until you make your way up a winding staircase to the second floor where more delights decorate the Victorian fireplace and shelves.  By far my favourite pair of shoes I saw was the rose bud sandals but at over £900 they are sadly out of my budget.



Manolo rose

It was a fantastic day out and inspired me to start colouring in my Vogue colouring book that I received for Christmas.  2015 saw the rise of the adult colouring book with at least 4 of them appearing in Amazon’s top 20 book sales.  It has been suggested that they can assist with mindfulness and I did find it surprisingly relaxing.


Vogue colouring book, ‘Love’ keyring as seen in first Sex and the City movie and a Yankee candle

Check out the Vogue exhibition whilst you can and they even do a combined ticket so that you can enjoy afternoon tea in the restaurant too.  It makes for a stylish girls day out.  Here’s to the next 100 years of Vogue!

Vogue 100: A Century of Style is at the National Portrait Gallery, London, from 11 February – 22 May 2016, sponsored by Leon Max.