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Following the unprecedented success of the Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at the Musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris, the V&A in London and the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the phenomenal exhibition exploring the life of the founding-couturier has been reinvented to honour and celebrate the singular ties that unite the French Maison with Japan. We presented the exhibition a few months ago, and today we're going to talk about it in-depth as it is now on view until May 2 at the MOT, Museum of Contemporary Art of Tokyo.

A tribute to Japanese culture, architect Shohei Shigematsu from the OMA agency in New York gracefully provides a new scenographic narrative to the exhibition. Playing with different contrasts, a black and white room is selected to embody the revolutionary New Look and the irresistible modernity of the Maison. “Christian Dior admired the Japanese for their capacity to ‘combine modernism and tradition.’ A mutual and profound tale of admiration that went on to link Japan – the land of tradition and innovation – with the House, whose retro style revolutionised post-war fashion,” in the words of Florence Müller, curator of the exhibition.

As we make our way into a journey into space and time, from Paris to Tokyo, we are met with a prelude exalting the couturiers love for art, as well as unprecedented access to archives recollecting documents, letters, sketches and pieces from shows which took place in Japanese cities. Souvenirs and accounts relate the privileged bond Christian Dior enjoyed in Japan, including the unrivalled collaborations between Dior and the Daimaru or Kanebo houses.The voyage continues and we are met with poetic images and bewitching shots of photographer Yuriko Takagi who’s captivating prints capture the legendary silhouettes of Monsieur Dior’s successors inn a curtailed atmosphere, evoking that of traditional Japanese architecture.

After an etherial wander, we arrive at the iconic room of the white toiles, illuminating the virtuosity of the ateliers.Carrying out the dialogue between Japanese aesthetic and pioneering vision of Christian Dior, an enchanted garden presents paperwork pieces of artist Ayumi Shibata while themes dear to the Maison are revealed and a magical cabinet of curiosities is enhanced by the work of Joël Andrianomearisoa. “We’re honoured to design a new spatial narrative within the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, that draws from Dior’s storied relationship to Japan as well as the country’s current cultural contexts to showcase Dior’s creative continuity in a new light,” states Shohei Shigematsu, OMA Partner.

Chromatic shades reaffirm the pivotal role of Dior accessories from cosmetics, to hats designed by Stephen Jones. Visitors also have the chance to revisit selected pieces worn by Grace Kelly, Natalie Portman, and Marilyn Monroe who also appears in three Andy Warhol screen prints belonging to the MOT. Another moment of awe captures a new chapter of the Maison’s artistic odyssey, the Lady Dior bag, a timeless icon is metamorphosed in a series of novel versions from all over the globe thanks to its nomadic nature – from Greece to Spain, India to Egypt, and to Japan. Upon conclusion of the exhibition which transcend through time we are drawn to a powerful finale revealing the dress elaborated by Penny Slinger in tribute to the iconic façade of 30 Montaigne.

The catalogue published to accompany the exhibition features the photographs of Yuriko Takagi, the opus explores further in depth the ties uniting Dior and Japan through unprecedented texts signed by Kazuko Koike, Akiko Fukai, Kaya Tsujita, Florence Müller, Vincent Leret and Olivier Flaviano. An enchanted ode to the cultural dialogues and unique patrimony of the Maison.
Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams is now on view at Museum of Contemporary Art of Tokyo until May 2.

Nur Rezai-Mah

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