September Reflections | Our Place In the V&As Iconic Dior Exhibition

by | Sep 9, 2021

As summer comes to an end and September rolls around again, I can’t help but reflect on the closing of what was one of the V&A’s most spectacular and successful fashion exhibitions of all time, ‘Dior: Designer of Dreams’. I was hugely privileged, extremely proud and more than a little humbled to play a small part in this iconic exhibition, loaning two very special Dior pieces from my private collection to the V&A. My extremely rare 1950s Christian Dior Mitchel Maer Bal des Oiseaux necklace and earrings took pride of place in the wonderful ‘Dior in Britain’ room of the sell-out show.
Jennifer Gibson Jewellery - Reflections of an Iconic Dior Exhibition
Two years on and the excitement and intense emotion of being part of something so extraordinary and historically impactful still overcomes me. I honestly don’t think that a year will pass without my thoughts returning to the mesmerising exhibition and reliving it’s wonder over and over again. From the thrilling preview night to my emotional final visit in September 2019, just before the exhibition closed, I have amassed so many magical memories and pinch me moments that I never would have thought possible, even in my wildest dreams.
I only have to glance through the spellbinding images and I’m instantly transported back to the Dior exhibition. Wandering through the eleven rooms in my head, I can smell the scents, recall the voices of the narrators and hear the evocative music that filled each room. The exhibition itself was an exquisite sensory overload with almost too much to absorb in just one visit – so much so that I visited it nine times in total, each trip a very different and wonderful experience.
I took friends, family and colleagues so that they could share the immersive and unforgettable experience and at other times I visited alone so that I could selfishly spend forever just standing there, taking it all in, soaking up the awe-inspiring atmosphere, and committing each minute detail to memory. And every time without fail, I could feel the very presence of Christian Dior’s soul with an intensity that never faded, even after many visits. I was drawn back to the rooms time and time again by an almost imperceptible force – I like to think of it as a magical magnetism – and I never wanted to leave. When I returned to the V&A this summer to visit the Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser exhibition I could see, hear and almost touch the Dior exhibits that once stood there – the memories so powerful, precious and utterly overwhelming.
Selfridges Resellfridges The Wedding -Jennifer Gibson Jewellery Vintage Bridal Edit 4
Tatler May 21 Howards Way

Looking Back at the Exhibition

The Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition was a hotly anticipated event in the fashion world and an incredibly important occasion for the House of Dior. Ticket sales soared long before it opened to the public on the 1 February 2019 and there was a real buzz in the air. I was thrilled to be invited to the preview on 30 January where I met Dior Creative Director, Maria Grazia Chiuri (another heart-stopping moment in a long line of treasured memories) and had a tantalising sneak peek at the priceless artefacts on display across the eleven spectacular rooms. Taking centre stage in the Dior in Britain room was the exquisitely embroidered, off-the-shoulder dress of dreams created by Christian Dior for Princess Margaret’s 21st birthday in 1951. Lovingly restored for this most magnificent exhibition, it was beautifully brought to life by Cecil Beaton’s now iconic photograph.

Seeing my Christian Dior Bal des Oiseaux necklace and earrings displayed in a glass cabinet alongside other timeless treasures from the same era will forever be a highlight in my life and still evokes feelings that are almost too raw to put into words.

Christian Dior was without doubt the greatest couturier to grace this planet and the knowledge that my pieces were created in his lifetime, make them all the more special to me. I’m ecstatic to have been able to loan those rare beauties to the V&A and play a small but very sweet part in Dior’s astonishing history.

Christian Dior Designer of Dreams Exhibition Catolgue Publication Jennifer Gibson Jewellery Bal Des Oiseaux Suite, Dior In Britain Section, Loan Acknowledgement
Tatler May 21 Howards Way
Within each room, but particularly in this room, which was a special celebration of Monsieur Dior’s love of British culture, there was a palpable aura of legacy, greatness and magic. Dior didn’t just design dreams, he made sure they lived on long after his death and with a little help from the V&A, the spirit of Christian Dior was renewed in this most magnificent spectacle. How on earth could I have imagined this intense experience when I bought my first piece of vintage Dior jewellery at the age of 14? My teenage self would be speechless.

I was also incredibly moved to get a very generous mention in the stunning exhibition publication alongside a heady list of who’s who in the world of Dior, fashion and the V&A. A truly beautiful keepsake of a very precious and magical moment in time.

An exceptional curation of exhibits and a fitting tribute to seven sensational decades of the inimitable House of Dior, it was an absolute thrill and a real pleasure to collaborate with curator, the very talented Oriole Cullen and her hardworking team. I’m eternally grateful and will be forever spellbound.

I have now bequeathed my Bal des Oiseaux suite to the V&A so that it can reside there permanently. It feels natural after the incredible journey we’ve been on and the memories we’ve amassed, and I know it will be the perfect home for this exquisite treasure.

Tatler May 21 Howards Way
Selfridges Resellfridges The Wedding -Jennifer Gibson Jewellery Vintage Bridal Edit 4

Dior from Top to Toe

2019 was the year that incredibly two of my dreams came true. As if taking part in such a breathtaking exhibition wasn’t enough, I was also invited to participate in the V&A’s second Dior: Top to Toe Course in June. Having attended the first course earlier in the year and been privy to some rare and rather exceptional insights into the House of Dior, I was beside myself with excitement to join the panel of speakers, which included the V&A’s Oriole Cullen, House of Dior head archivist, Soizic Pfaff, and iconic Dior mannequin, Svetlana Lloyd.
I couldn’t be more grateful to the marvellous V&A Museum for making 2019 a year to remember. Recent events and the trauma of the last eighteen months have really made me appreciate how amazing it was that both of these (for me) life-changing events went ahead. Life seems so much more precarious right now and I’m holding on to these cherished memories a little bit tighter than I was before and feeling truly thankful for every magical Dior moment. Love from Jennifer x

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