Couture gowns worn by Princess Margaret, Hollywood star Jennifer Lawrence and ballerina Margot Fonteyn will be among the star items at the V&A’s Christian Dior exhibition.
Christian Dior: Designer Of Dreams, which is the Victoria & Albert Museum’s biggest fashion exhibition since it showcased creations by Alexander McQueen in 2015, will also explore the “top secret” shows he arranged for royalty.
Visitors will be able to see the Dior dress worn by Princess Margaret for her 21st birthday celebrations, embroidered with straw-raffia “not usually associated with a princess dress”.
The gown Oscar-winning star Lawrence wore to the premiere of 2017 film Mother! will also go on show, loaned from the Dior heritage archive.
The exhibition will explore the private fashion shows held by Dior in London for Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother before her daughter became Queen.
The Queen Mother is said to have told a model she did not need to follow royal protocol and exit the room backwards because she was keen to see the back of the dress.
The exhibition, to open in February next year, will feature more than 200 dresses – every single one made by hand – as well as accessories, film, vintage perfume, original make-up and fashion photography.
A section of the exhibition will explore how the French designer, who once said “I even love English cooking”, was fascinated by the country’s culture.
Oriole Cullen, fashion and textiles curator at the V&A, said the show would celebrate the expertise and craft behind Dior, which “changed the face of fashion” in the 1940s, redefining “the female silhouette and reinvigorated the post-war Parisian fashion industry”.
She said the show would explore the “top secret” private shows held for members of British royalty and the legacy left by Dior’s successive artistic directors.
Christian Dior: Designer Of Dreams, will run from February 2 to July 14 2019.