To be a part of the Exhibition Ambassadors Luncheon on Monday, May 13, cost a very pretty Cleveland or two. But it was so very worth it for those who love fashion, art and/or history. Not only did the occasion provide a first lingering look at the spectacular Dallas Museum of Art‘s “Dior: From Paris To The World,” it also included a fabulous luncheon and a chat between Dior experts Dior milliner Stephen Jones and Denver Art Museum’s Avenir Foundation Curator of Textile Art and Fashion Florence Müller, who had spent years curating the collection and its story.
But then what would one expect when an event was being co-chaired by three generations of Joneses (matriarch Gene Jones, her daughter Charlotte Jones Anderson and her granddaughter Jordan Jones) with “Fancy Nancy” C. Rogers as honorary chair?
Sidenote: The original arrangement for “Dior: From Paris To The World” was that the Denver Art Museum would be the only showing in the USA. However, thanks to negotiations among the three Ds (Dior, Denver and Dallas), the DMA landed the exhibition.
The exhibition of the Christian Dior designers (Christian Dior from 1947 to 1957, Yves Saint Laurent from 1958 to1960, Marc Bohan from 1961 to 1989, Gianfranco Ferré from 1989 to 1996, John Galliano from 1997 to 2011, Raf Simons from 2012 to 2015 and Maria Grazia Chiuri from 2016 to the present) that had already been in Paris, London and Denver, was to be displayed in the DMA Barrel Vault. But what they discovered was a total reconfiguring of the floor’s plan by Shohei Shigematsu. With hallways leading from arrangements of galleries featuring seven designers to the towering grand hall of multi-tiers of Ladies of Dior and then still another hallway to more galleries and displays, guests channeled King Tut’s Howard Carter in discovering “wonderful things.”
Luckily there were DMA staffers on hand in the grand hall to warn guests to watch their steps, because their eyes would be so focused on the fashions that they might lose their footing.
In the Total Look gallery, there were legendary photographs of celebs (Audrey Hepburn, Art Buchwald, Marilyn Monroe and Dovima) in Dior fashions by famed fashion photographers (Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton, Norman Parkinson, Bert Stern and Helmut Newton).
In the center of the gallery were cases displaying how Dior had “wanted a woman to be able to leave the boutique dressed [by Dior] from head to toe, even carrying a present for her husband in her hand.” From the design of perfume bottle packaging to handbags, the cases were perfect reflections of Dior’s wish — “My dresses make a princess of every woman.”
Across the way from the “Splendors of the 18th Century” was “Dallas and Beyond,” with highlights of the long relationship between the city and the designer.
Those who visited the show in other cities gave their reviews. London had been “formal;” Paris had been allotted more room, so it was “bigger” in some ways. Dallas was “the most elegant.” It even had 30 new outfits in the presentation. But actually “Dior: From Paris To The World” was a feast for more than fashion lovers. It also was a marvelous history lesson of art that spanned seven decades demonstrating the changes in colors, designs and textures.
While guests wandered the halls and took cell-shots (“This is why God created cellphones,” one person said), the Hamon Atrium was being set up for a luncheon. Event planner Todd Fiscus had a 10-foot-tall open canopy crowned with glorious spring flowers at the entrance for guests arriving from the Eagle Family Plaza. Tables were highlighted by coral and hot pink peonies that seemed too shy to open up. But just on cue as the guests arrived for lunch, the flowers opened in a flourish. Todd has his way with flowers, don’t you know.
But before the lunch chimes rang, guests like Christen Wilson with Taylor Olson, Moll Anderson, Peggy Sewell, Sue Gragg, Rebecca Fletcher, Suzanne Droese, Shonn Brown, Stacey McCord, Ceron, Kit Sawers, Matrice Ellis Kirk, Flora Kim, Yvette Ostolaza, Agustin Arteaga and Carlos Gonzalez-Jaime settled in the Plaza. Lee Ann White and Leslie Merrick were raving about the Kentucky Derby. Lee Ann and husband Alan White had bunked down at Lisa and Kenny Troutt’s 600-acre farm and were still bubbling with details about the weekend… Rachael Dedman and Cara French were comparing notes about Pi Phi rush at OU… Speaking of Cara, she was in countdown mode to create a graduation book for Lilly French, who is headed to OU… Piper Wyatt was explaining that she and husband Mike Wyatt were underwriting co-chairs for the Park and Palate dinner… At the last minute, fashion journalist Hamish Bowles arrived on the scene to cover the festivities for Vogue and was seated at Brian Bolke’s table. It seems that Hamish had more than a seat at the table. A fashion collector, he had loaned some of his Dior gowns for the exhibition.. At another table were a couple of first ladies: former first lady Laura Bush and current Dallas first Lady Micki Rawlings.
Then French-born Florence and British-born Stephen took their places in blue wingback chairs on stage to chat about the history of the House of Dior that started over 70 years ago. The milliner, whose first star client was the late Princess Diana, recalled his work with Dior starting in the late 1990s with then-designer John Galliano. It was heady stuff.
For more photos of the fashions and faces, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.