Please permit me a small digression about our lodgings. Our hotel was built about 400 years ago, and one might expect a little antiquity in the environment. Indeed, the exposed beamwork in the ceilings gives evidence to that. But it has been modernized, and the bathroom is noteworthy. With mirrors all around, there’s nowhere to hide. ‘Nuff said.
Anita is our trip organizer. My job is to secure planes, trains, and automobiles to move us from one place to another on her list of things to see and do. But she always asks: “What do YOU want to do?” And I always say the same thing: I just want to go sit at a cafe terrace, sip a coffee, munch on a croissant, and read a French newspaper. Today I did just that.
The French have two major satiric weeklies. One, Charlie Hebdo, is a bit too far on the offensive scale for my taste. It is as if the editors feel that if they haven’t offended some group they haven’t been doing their job. The other, Le Carnard enchainè, is a bit more mainstream political satire. This week, for instance, there was a report about recent research on how much money had been moved from the French domestic national product into “fiscal paradises”, where it cannnot be taxed. Le Canard‘s suggestion was to change French finance laws to make France itself a “fiscal paradise”–that way, at least the money would stay inside French borders.
After my espresso and pain au chocolat, Anita joined me and off we went to item number one on her list of four things to do today, the Christian Dior 70th anniversary exhibit at the Center for Decorative Arts. Spoiler alert: we never made it to items two through four.
It turns out we weren’t the only ones in Paris, the center of the fashion world, who thought a 70-year retrospective on Dior would be a good way to spend a couple of hours. Anita, always the shy and reticent type, as we waited in the ticket line, collected a few examples of what I now have learned is called “street style”–what style-conscious normal people wear on the street. Our two favorites:
The Dior house of fashion was founded in 1947. If you want to read more history on this monumental period in the fashion world, check out the Wikipedia article here. Those of you who know us know that the world of fashion isn’t my strong suit. But this was an impressive exhibit. I’ll give you just a brief synopsis, and then at the end, just a representative group of photos.
First, and partly for my French class, a preview of one of my four photos of hands for our next assignment:
There are by my count five hands here, but the one I like the most is perched on the mannequin’s head, serving as what we now call a “fascinator.” This is one thing I love about the fashion world: what makes a weird head-piece like that “fascinating?” But I digress.
Dior passed away only ten years after founding this house, but he left it in good hands, in the person of a certain Yves Saint Laurent, followed by several others. I lost the thread of which of the creations were Dior’s work and which were his followers’, but how important can that be?
One of the side effects of spending a career as an engineer is having an awareness of what it takes to get from an initial sketch of a product design to the finished product. Consequently one of my own favorite items in the exhibit was a sample of some of Dior’s own original sketches:
Finally, here is a small random walk through a two-hour exhibit spread over three floors. Enjoy.