The House of Dior is built upon Christian Dior’s spirit of reinvention and global reach in fashion, a legacy that simultaneously persists and evolves with the contributions of individual creative directors. The scenography for Dior: From Paris to the World at the Denver Art Museum and Dallas Art Museum defined continuous narrative journeys—in each, a seamless path and unified backdrop for garments and artworks that reflected over 70 years of The House of Dior.
In Japan, a country of both technological innovation but also a rich, traditional culture, the exhibition design for Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams reflects a diverse multiplicity within historic and contemporary contexts simultaneously. The scenography reimagines the white-cube gallery beyond its limits to provide an immersive and varied experience more akin to set design with rooms transitioning between light and dark, intimate and grand, organic and orthogonal.
Across two floors of the MOT, 22 curatorial themes are deployed into separate, specific, immersive environments. The set designs utilize different techniques, materials, or motifs referential to elements shared between Japanese tradition and culture and Dior history and contemporary collections. Visual and spatial qualities of known elements and construction techniques like Shoji screens and Nebuta1 floats are manipulated, exaggerated, and shaped into contemporary forms. Familiar and enigmatic, the constructed landscapes create a series of distinct and immersive environments and a new set of surfaces to expand storytelling capacity.
In one of the key themes of the exhibition, “Dior and Japan”, a winding path and pockets for display along it, akin to stations of the Japanese Tea Garden, is expanded vertically and horizontally. The wooden structure is wrapped in backlit Tenjiku fabric and Awagami washi paper, creating a layered, luminous backdrop for the garments and artifacts. The three-dimensional landscape is projected onto with various patterns and motifs to further activate the space.
“The Dior Legacy” is a unified framework of a series of spaces dedicated to the House of Dior’s seven creative directors. Enlarged fabric panels are deployed as enfilade dividers that draw from fusuma2 and Sudare3 hanging panels commonly used in Japanese interiors to organize multiple environments in a single space. The screens used to segment the space are printed with larger-than-life photographs by Yuriko Takagi, creating an additional narrative medium that provides a visual understanding of the continuity from one creative director to another.
The “floor” of the museum atrium is lifted and sloped to bisect the lofted space diagonally, creating a double-sided display. The top becomes a single, grand slope for “The Dior Ball”, the grandest set of the exhibition, where mannequins in gowns climb up as spectators view their “procession” from below or above from a bridge. An angled mirror at the top of the slope continues the geometry infinitely and reflects the garments and scenography in an unexpected way. A more intimate environment is inserted underneath for “Dior around the World.” Visitors step into a domed room comprised of layers of concentric fabric surfaces, forming a scenographic hemisphere with animated projections.
Together with nine other rooms, a sequence of themes and distinct environments comprise a diverse exhibition scenography. The rooms collectively take visitors through a journey of discovery through the history of the House of Dior, revealing the multifaceted relationship between the House and Japan against contemporary juxtapositions.
OMA New York
Partner: Shohei Shigematsu
Associate: Christy Cheng
Project Architect: Jesse Catalano
Team: Tim Ho, Jintong Duan, Janet Lu, Hangsoo Jeong, Byron Cai, Eugene Kim
Christian Dior Couture
Gérald Chevalier, Hélene Starkman, Daphné Catroux, Alice Gariepy, Alice Lefevre, Anne-Charlotte Mercier, Stéphanie Pélian, Charlotte Rezé, Isabelle Rousset
Curator: Florence Müller