The Christian Dior Museum in Granville will for
the first time ever bring together over 50 Dior ball
gowns for the new exhibition “The Dior Grand
Ball”, from May 13 to September 26, 2010.

This remarkable new exhibition places the universe and creations of Christian
Dior—haute couture, accessories and fragrances from the House of
Dior, plus paintings, photographs, archive films and literary works—in a
unique context: the history of balls, from the 18th century to the present.
The exhibition is a tribute to Christian Dior himself, showcasing his talent
and refinement, and his love of sumptuous costumes, expressed in creations
for the grand balls of the post-war period. The couturier was part of myriad
memorable events, including the 1949 Kings and Queens Ball, which he
attended disguised as the “King of the Animals”, the Bal des Artistes
(Artists’ Ball) in 1956, for which he dressed as a dandy, or the Masks
and Dominos Ball hosted by Charles de Beistegui at the Palazzo Labia
in Venice in 1951. Several of the gowns and parade costumes created by
Christian Dior for this mythic ball – often described as “the party of
the century”- will be loaned by the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the
Musée Galliera.
The first part of the exhibition will evoke the sources of inspiration
that nourished the imagination of Christian Dior himself: his youth,
marked by balls at the Granville Casino, followed by his discovery in
Paris of the Opera ballets and the Russian ballets. Also featured are his
friendships with musician Henri Sauguet and the decorator Christian
Bérard and his deep passion for artistic creation and the artists of his
time. One of the major pieces in the exhibition is Kees Van Dongen’s
Self-Portrait as Neptune (1922), which served as the inspiration
for Christian Dior’s very first ball costume. This exceptional work has
been loaned for the exhibition by the Musée National d’Art Moderne
(Pompidou Center).
The second part of the exhibition covers the period from the 1980s to the
present, evoking the renaissance of grand balls such as the “Debutante
Ball”, and showcases the “new balls” given by the House of Dior in
recent decades. Included are the “Bal des Artistes”, for which John
Galliano drew inspiration from the grand masters—– Goya, Velasquez,
Rembrandt, Vermeer and others—to celebrate the 60th anniversary of
Maison Dior at the Château de Versailles in 2007, as well as the
“Ball in Honor of the Marquise Cassati”, which inspired the 1998
Spring-Summer Haute Couture collection. The exhibition also presents
the parties given by Parfums Christian Dior in the grandest tradition
of elegant balls. The “Poison” (1985) and “Dune” (1991) balls given
at the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte, as well as the “Midnight Poison”
evening held at the Paris Opera in 2007—immortalized in the advertising
spot by director Wong Kar-wai—are all displayed in the exhibition.
The exhibition is staged by Frédéric Beauclair in the heart of the
Villa “Les Rhumbs”, recreating the magical and sumptuous spirit of
the grand balls. In addition to stunning lighting, the musical ambiance
plus audio and video documents enable visitors—at least for a delightful
interlude—to become ephemeral guests at the “Dior Grand Ball”.



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