It was a frocking good night

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By Louise Avery 


When an invitation pops into the inbox mentioning Dior and cocktails in the same sentence there is no hesitation that I would be there.  

It would possibly have been my perfect ‘Ab Fab’ moment except that I had just started a new job and it was a Tuesday night.  

Nevertheless, I was there, woefully underdressed, so I chose to slip into the shadows to witness the growing spectacle of heels, frocks, hats and one very fluffy pink coat a la Gucci.  

I had not realised that I had agreed to a high point on the social fashion calendar. 

As I arrived at the NGV, I walked past a vanguard of male models doubling as ushers for the evening who looked at my work pants and coat doubtfully and then decided to let me continue along a mile of red carpet to arrive into the ‘nightclub’ that by day is the main hall of the NGV.  

My attitude to failing to read invitations correctly is, and was, ‘when in doubt get a shout!’ 

In this case, I chose to relieve a nervous black-clad waiter of one of the champagne glasses under his care.  

Luckily, I was wearing black and it was a dark evening.  

I started chatting to an elegantly dressed man who had slunk to the sidelines too, while watching the crowd swell. 

I mentioned my inadequate dress sense and he said, “Oh me too … I just threw this on”. 

Oh Bless! I thought how could he say that? He had a neatly tied bow at his neck, a jacket so snuggly fit, that I later discovered it was a rare Dior jacket from a London vintage store. On his hands were a casual collection of the most elegant vintage rings.  

I crept a bit more into the shadows for more wine.  

As the crowd grew, I found a pack of press people who were equally bedazzled and were sitting back watching the unfolding fashion event.  

It was fabulous and they were fabulous! Moet flowed freely! 

I saw one waiter crumble under the expectations of champagne and style and drop his collection of filled Moet glasses to the floor. 

The few subtle spotlights were just for the beautiful ones that night.  

The food was what one may expect at a fashion event. It wasn’t finger food but fingernail food. 

Each carefully presented morsel was the size of my thumbnail.  

I  resisted the urge to lunge at a full tray of truffle and sliced beetroot.  

I nibbled on my morsels, grateful I had eaten earlier.  

Is this why some fashion people are so thin?  

But we were there for the frocks, so eventually, I wandered into a mini version of the full exhibition with Margie Easterbrook of The Saturday Age and realised that between the cocktails there were the frocks.  

It was a breathtaking collection of some of the most seminal periods of Dior.  Christian Dior started the house responsible for the New Look revolution. 

Iconic outfits such as the Bar Suit, pioneered in 1947 with distinctive padded-hips and tiny waists, were on show.  The dresses were a testament to the skill of couture, the extravagance of this world of design, and the art of a truly inspiring designer.  

Although the house has outlived its human namesake, Christian Dior died in 1957, his name and heritage have lived on. The exhibition featured different interpretations on the Dior ‘look’ that has taken the designer label in different but exciting directions.  

The artistic directors who took the helm after Mr Dior’s death were as diverse in style as they were culturally.  However, they still found a common ethos to connect to with the label.  John Galliano’s punk modern take on the label still referred back to the classic concepts of the New Look and the original perspective of Dior, while the sleek Italian elegance artistic director Gianfranco Ferre made Dior sexy in a very 90s style.  Then there was the work of Maria Grazia Hiuri whose designs were far more folk art driven than I would have expected but still stunning clothes.Other designers who took a turn at Dior included Yves St Laurent, Marc Bohan, and Raf Simmons whose works were also represented in the exhibition.  

A fun fact to finish this tale, in 1949, an Australian clothing manufacturer from Melbourne, Douglas Cox, travelled to Paris to meet with Christian Dior and arranged a contract to produce original Dior couture designs in a small Flinders Lane workshop.  

While this was an extraordinary coup for Australia and the local industry, it was too much for conservative Australians at the time. Only a single season of these beautiful designs made here.

How Melbourne has grown as it seemed the entire population was out lusting after the exquisite works of art paraded on participants and the mannequins at the Dior event of the century.  

I trotted off home into the night, still dreaming of buttons, finishes and a desire to one day become rich enough to wear something like that – if I could fit into it.  



27 AUG 17 – 7 NOV 17 







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