Sneak Peek: Christian Dior at Royal Ontario Museum

On November 25th, visitors to the ROM can step into their dream atelier and celebrate the House of Dior’s 70th anniversary with an exclusive look Dior’s foundational years of haute couture. Christian Dior, presented by Holt Renfrew, was curated by Senior Curator, Dr. Alexandra Palmer, drawing from the ROM’s own extensive collection, including gifts from the closets of prominent Torontonians.

The collection focuses on the first first ten years of Dior couture, spanning 1947 – 1957, a pivotal time in history. These collections revived the Paris haute couture industry after the Second World War and highlighted the shift from the wartime masculine silhouette to the “New Look” – soft shoulders, cinched waist, accentuated hips and long, full skirts.

Want an even closer look? iPads by each garment provide a closer look at the craftsmanship and care that went into each one. Visitors can zoom in to the details, as if they were holding the garments in-hand. The iPads also show images of the pieces being worn by the real-life women who owned them.

In fact, this is one of the most captivating parts of the exhibit. The garments on display were sourced primarily from donors over the years, including Toronto and Montreal socialites of the period. In fact, these dresses feature the custom alterations for each woman they belonged to. Dr. Palmer was quick to point out that these alterations are what make the dresses special – they show that the women loved these dresses and wanted to extend their wear instead of simply putting them away and buying another.


I was lucky enough to spot one of the donors, Lillian Weiss, taking in the sight of pieces from her own closet on display. It’s the kind of thing that gives you chills – and new life goals.

For the magpies among us – self included – don’t fret. If the gorgeously detailed dresses aren’t enough, there’s a full display of glittering jewellery and accessories to boot, including the most expensive bottle of Dior perfume that was once gifted during runway shows to prominent guests.

With more than 100 objects – including 38 designs – to enjoy, it’s easy to spend an hour or more carefully going through the exhibit. While I was a guest of Holman Exhibits at the preview – they were responsible for the graphic work in the exhibit and many of the displays – I’ve already started planning my next visit with my Mom to take in the collection again.

For more details or to buy your tickets, visit the ROM website.