Dior Illustrated – Somerset House

A few weeks ago, I got to enjoy a free weekend all for myself and decided to go for a little walk and some culture refreshing. I had been told the Somerset House, located in the heart of London, was hosting a Matthew Williamson showcase and led myself straight to there.

As soon as I arrived, I noticed a big poster of a lovely illustrated blonde lady- “Dior Illustrated” it read. I thought I would give it a try after seeing what Wiliamson was capable of. The exhibition was quite small, to be honest. The room was white and plain (my favorite) with only a few high quality pictures showcased- some backstage, text and quotes. Overall, the exhibit was not bad, but not what I expected. After only thirty minutes of browsing I headed downstairs.

The poster of the elegant lady looked at me again, and as if planned, it invited me to one of the best exhibits I have seen since being in London: Dior Illustrated.

The exhibit showcases the work of the well known illustrator René Gruau, who certainly represented the spirit of Dior with elegance and freshness. As I walked by the illustrations, I appreciated the trajectory of the French brand and its development throughout the years- beggining in the thirties with works like the Swans or the Glove Hand that popularized the brand.

The exhibit features some important pieces from the 60s that Gruau completed for Dior like the first Miss Diors- the image chosen to represent the whole exhibition. During these years, his skill becomes more colorful and vivid and risky- the woman figure becomes more accentuated and provocative than ever before.

The exhibition also showcases his famous masculine character that symbolizes a change in 70s mens adverts and also became an icon for the brand’s perfume. This man is always represented on his illustrations in a predominant way, sometimes showing smartness, romanticism and elegance while portraying his wild side at others.

The female shapes, in the early 80s, become taller, bigger, stronger and more independent. This trend was perfectly adapted to the current social needs and his skill shows even brighter and more powerful, simple lines that explain everything with basic colors.

It was all very well presented, the exhibition guided me through the years and explained accurately how his work developed in relation to the different decades when opinions and interests were continuously changing for both men and women. He adapts to the beginning of fashion advertisement in the thirties when women were not yet completely free from the sexist pressure and continuously develops and changes according to society’s evolution.