The newly opened Dior retrospective in Melbourne is the ultimate high-end excuse to get away with the girls for a long weekend of fashion.
In a coup for Australia’s fashion capital, a partnership between the house of Dior and the National Gallery of Victoria has seen never-viewed-before exhibition The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture arrive in Melbourne. With garments and archival material spanning the French label’s 70-year history, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with one of the most prestigious names in fashion — and discover the best of Melbourne while you’re at it. Thanks to Qantas, it’s never been easier to get there.
Christian Dior haute couture by John Galliano 2019 (left); and inside the ateliers of the House of Dior, 2012.
Launching his debut spring/summer collection in February 1947, Normandy-born Christian Dior introduced a radical new post-war silhouette that delighted and in some cases shocked the public. With tightly boned bodices, padded hips and full skirts created using many yards of fabric, the ‘New Look’ collection returned femininity and luxury to fashion after the practical and cost-efficient slim lines of wartime style.
Through the 1950s, Dior’s haute couture gowns were worn by film stars and royalty, and he expanded into perfume, shoes and jewellery. Until his death in 1957 at the age of 52, Dior drove what’s considered the renaissance of French couture and cemented the house as one of the world’s most influential fashion labels.
Christian Dior haute couture by John Galliano, 2011 (left) and Christian Dior haute couture by Raf Simons, 2012.
Drawing primarily on material from the House of Dior archive in Paris and the National Gallery’s Collection, The House of Dior is a sumptuous display of more than 140 garments from Christian Dior Couture dating from 1947 to 2017, as well as accessories, sketches, photographs, haute couture toiles, multimedia and archival material. You’ll see examples from the ‘New Look’ collection, grand displays of Dior’s signature ball gowns and rare photographs offering a glimpse into the designer’s life. Follow the gowns through the house’s history as they morph in the hands of modern Dior designers — from Gianfranco Ferré to John Galliano and Raf Simons, and now the House’s first female head designer, Maria Grazia Chiuri.
Located on the terrace overlooking the Yarra River is Italian trattoria Fatto. Right next to the National Gallery, it’s the ideal spot for a long lunch after a morning submerged in couture. A Melbourne institution, Fatto’s famous for its handmade pasta and bowl-like glasses of red wine.
For dinner, head down Flinders Lane to Kisumé. A contemporary Japanese experience, the attention to detail here is impeccable. Split across three levels, the sushi bar and restaurant occupy the ground floor and basement, while Kuro Kisumé on the first floor offers a kaiseki (Japanese degustation) like no other.
Hip new bar Arlechin is the place to visit for a late-night tipple. Tucked behind Grossi Florentino on Mornane Place, the mischievous little joint does creative cocktails and, if you need them, delicious midnight snacks. Next morning, Higher Ground is a must for exceptional breakfasts in a beautifully reimagined industrial space on Little Bourke Street.
Cocktails at Arlechin (left); and breakfast at Higher Ground.
QT Hotel is a hotel, sure, but it’s also an artisan playground of unique furniture, colourful lighting and quirky curiosities. Inside, Pascale Bar & Grill pays homage to the city’s European influence, Hot Sauce Laneway Bar offers Asian street food with a gourmet slant, and if you’re in need of a sweet treat, The Cake Shop will more than suffice. qthotelsandresorts.com
If you’re up for a little adventure, try St Jerome’s. Luxury accommodation meets the great outdoors, this is glamping in the heart of the city. Perched on a rooftop, it’s home to 21 premium canvas tents, with all the trimmings of a lavish hotel. Fall asleep under the stars and wake to a 360-degree view, with added extras such as a rooftop bar, an infrared sauna and your own chilly bin stocked with complimentary beer and cider. stjeromesthehotel.com.au
Glamping at St Jerome’s.
If a couture exhibition doesn’t inspire you to shop, we don’t know what will! Happily, just eight minutes from the gallery are the luxury labels of Collins Street, with most of high fashion’s main players dotted along this heritage strip, including Dior. If you’re after something with an edge, multi-designer boutique Marais (across the road and down a bit) stocks the latest from Givenchy, Rick Owens, Off-White and more.
For an injection of high-end streetwear (and a decadent nibble or two) head into the new St Collins Lane. There you’ll find Zadig & Voltaire, The Kooples and Sandro Paris, among others, plus champagne and high-tea lounge, Runya’s Room.
Christian Dior beret, $1250, bag, $4600, and earrings, $880.
With 42 Boeing 737-800 services between Auckland and Melbourne each week, as well as direct services from Wellington and Christchurch, Qantas is the best way to fly. Sip a glass of boutique wine from the collection chosen by Rockpool sommeliers and get your fashion-filled Melbourne mini-break started mid-air.
Begin your getaway in style in-flight with exquisite boutique wines by Rockpool, and then settle into Qantas Business Class, with luxury leather seats designed by Marc Newson.
The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture is open at the National Gallery of Victoria, 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne from August 27 to November 7.