The Chicago History Museum hosted a stylish fête celebrating the House of Dior’s 60th Anniversary, sponsored by the Mandarin Oriental.
Factio kicked off the evening by taking a spin through the museum’s current exhibition, Dior: The New Look. Housed in an intimate room on the first floor, the exhibition provides an up-close glimpse at the cutting-edge styles that Dior created in the wake of World War II. In February of 1947, Christian presented his first collection to the Parisian public, stunning his audience with then-revolutionary silhouettes comprised of nipped waists, rounded shoulders and padded, voluminous skirts.
The name New Look comes from a comment legendary Harper’s Bazaar editor Carmel Snow made to Christian after the presentation: “It’s quite a revolution, dear Christian,” she said. “Your dresses have such a new look.” Before the exhibition, we’d only seen these classic styles in black-and-white photographs; now, standing inches from impossibly elegant cocktail dresses, ranging from a black silk faille confection from 1947 to a celadon-green silk taffeta piece from 1955; Factio felt the giddy sensation of seeing a movie star in the flesh. Speaking of which, a 1953 pearly pink, tulle ball gown with silver sequin and rhinestone embroidery reminded us of Reese Witherspoon’s 2006 Oscar gown—also a vintage Dior.
The party continued upstairs, where a Parisian theme prevailed. The Chicago Room of the museum, sumptuously furbished with marble floors and crystal chandeliers, was filled with red roses and orchestrated by a classic city-of-lights soundtrack that included Edith Piaf’s famous “La Vie en Rose.” As tuxedoed waiters circulated with silver trays of Diortinis—pomegranate martinis festively garnished with star fruit, curator Timothy Long took to the stage to speak about the designer of honor. Celebrated pianist Stanley Paul played sparkling ditties while models posed in Dior’s spring 2007 collection (all pieces were from Saks Fifth Avenue). In the background, images of 1940s Paris were projected onto an oversized screen.
As the presentation came to a close, fashionable guests like design dynamo Orlando Espinoza, Chicago socialite Hazel Barr and local fashion icon Dorothy Fuller mingled and indulged in heart-shaped chocolate cakes. Our favorite dessert was the chocolate-dipped fortune cookies bearing Dior-isms. Inside, our fortune read, “Dior says: A woman’s perfume tells more about her than her handwriting.”
Gift bags filled with Dior cosmetics, Sarah’s chocolates and a book on the New Look exhibition were handed to guests as the lavish evening came to an end.
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