Christian Dior is undoubtedly one of my favourite Haute Couture designers of the 1940s and 1950s. His spring collection of 1947 will forever be known as The New Look, a name attributed to Carmel Snow, the Editor in Chief of Harper’s Bazaar, as it was she who said at the end of Dior’s first collection “It’s quite a revolution, dear Christian! Your dresses have such a new look!” Full skirts in sumptuous fabrics, perfectly tailored, fitted jackets creating the illusion of tiny wasp-like waist is definitely my ideal of beauty and female sensuality as well as sexuality. To me Dior’s creations from that era will always be synonymous with the perfect silhouette and immaculate workmanship so apparent in the tailoring of al his glorious designs. Opinion that was clearly shared by Australians as in the spring of 1948 David Jones, a department store in Sydney, organised a fashion parade of fifty Christian Dior creations, the first complete Dior collection to be shown outside Paris. So it comes as no surprise that 70 years later the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia hosted exhibition entitled The House of Dior: Seventy Years Of Haute Couture.
To say that Christian Dior is greatly admired all over the world sounds like a truly platitudinous remark as his fans and clients can be found on all continents. What did come to me as a bit of surprise however was finding one of the most significant collectors of vintage Dior, as wells as haute couture creations of Paris fashion houses, such as: Jacques Heim, Nina Ricci, Jacques Griffe, Lola Prusac, Pierre Balmain, Jeanne Lanvin, Roger Vivier, Douillet Doucet, Jean Patou, Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, Hubert de Givenchy, Pierre Cardin, André Courrèges, Paco Rabanne, Yves Saint Laurent, Thierry Mugler, Jean Louis Scherrer, Ted Lapidus, Loris Azzaro, Philippe Venet, Olivier Guillemin, Franck Sorbier, Christophe Josse and many others, not in Paris which springs to mind like an obvious place, but in Poland.
The man behind a collection of 5000 designer pieces, over 100 of which are haute couture, is Adam Leja who recently bestowed upon me an invitation to the opening of his exhibition “Christian Dior and the Parisian fashion icons from the Adam Leja collection” at the Central Museum of Textile in Łódź; an invitation that I didn’t hesitate to accept and I’m glad I did. I don’t wish to spoil it by revealing too much of the exhibition, so the few photos I’m posting here will have to suffice and perhaps awaken your appetite into venturing a trip to Łódź. All I will say is, that it’s thanks to passionate aficionados and collectors of vintage couture like Adam Leja, garments that are part of the history of fashion and could have been easily forgotten, will live yet another day and perhaps allow the young generation of designers and buyers to learn about the true craftsmanship of couture as well as style and elegance so present in the 1950s and sadly forgotten in 2018.