The reverse side of Dior – Style – Kommersant

The reverse side of Dior – Style – Kommersant

Frames of empty offices. Their affiliation to the fashion industry is given out by the photograph of “Dovima with Elephants” by Richard Avedon left on the wall and the seemingly accidentally forgotten portrait of the slender Christian Dior by Bernard Buffet. What secrets do not keep the walls of the historic house on Avenue Montaigne, where Christian Dior moved his offspring in December 1946, just a few weeks before the presentation of the revolutionary New Look collection.

These layers of the past were captured by Canadian-American photographer Robert Polidori during two years of extensive renovations: from the first stripped plinth at the end of 2019 to the rose planted in the foyer of the boutique by sculptor Isa Genzken, who welcomed the first guests in March 2022. Dior's book "Metamorphosis" (Rizzoli) documents destruction and rebirth frame by frame. Where there were cabinets and shelves, there were uprooted wires, torn carpet and doors propping up the walls. On one page, historic salons gleam with crystal candelabra and flaunt the slender legs of Ludovik chests of drawers. But it is worth turning it over - no shine, no legs, only the rays of the setting sun dance on the peeled walls. Here is the office of Maria Grazia-Chiuri - chrysanthemums bloom against the backdrop of glossy covers. On one of them, Jennifer Lawrence in Dior's red neckline carries the "flame of Hollywood", on the other - "The Rules of Courchevel Removal" in pure Russian. Natalia Vodianova, Antoine Arnault, Sydney Toledano, a handwritten letter of thanks for a fabulous wedding dress (from Chiara Ferragni, by the looks of it), a pug, a notepad in all the colors of the rainbow, Dammann Earl Gray tea. And suddenly - a mountain of garbage. Under the removed wallpaper and parquet, the smudges and wounds of the historical building, the lives lived here, are exposed.

72-year-old Robert Polidori is as far from the world of glamor as his photographs are from glossy pictures from albums, which are usually beautifully laid out on a coffee table. Of the fashion collaborations in his track record, only the Bottega Veneta advertising campaign from a decade ago. Polidori's passion is architecture. He filmed Castro's Havana, the aftermath of Chernobyl, New Orleans devastated by the hurricane, the abandoned churches of Naples, the empty halls of the Kremlin and the gutted bedrooms of Versailles. Polidori is a chronicler of all the restorations of the royal palace since the 80s. His interest in destruction and decay is anthropological, even anatomical. His camera captures how something else arises from previous states, how a new body is assembled. The photographer looks at the interiors - whether it be the halls of Versailles or the apartment of the nouveau riche - through the eyes of Freud and repeats about the "super-ego". “Fashion is from the same series,” says Polidori. “Dressing to become someone, to seem like someone.” By signing the book, he once again retells his idea that fashion is chasing eternal ideal youth. He is also interested in scars and wrinkles, imperfections and devastation. He is ready to catch them for hours at a slow shutter speed, waiting for the perfect natural light. “The work at Dior was on such a scale that at some point I lost all bearings in the buildings,” the photographer admits.

Then the director of communications came to the rescue, who offered to navigate by dresses. The climax of the book is the launch of the iconic archives of the French house, the work of all art directors, from Christian Dior to Maria Grazia-Curi, to the construction site. The luxurious parade opens with the historical Bar ensemble from the couture collection of 1947 against the background of a concrete screed, the train of Gianfranco Ferre’s hellebore dress stretches along the steps of the stairs, the multi-layered New Look homages from Galliano perform in neon lights and polyethylene, Raf Simons in the skeletons of scaffolding, and for creations Maria Grazia-Churi chose an artistic shot, against the background of "electric markings", a kind of building graffiti.

The second part of the book is a reconstruction. Page after page, chaos is being reassembled into order. Museum exhibits take up space in the new Dior gallery, a staircase with impressive showcases, in which miniature dresses, bags and shoes lined up beautifully from floor to floor, people wash and vacuum cleaners, coffee machines are already charged in the boutique bar, lawns are mowed. “The more things change, the more they become themselves,” Robert Polidori ends his book on a philosophical note, inviting readers to take their route to 30 Avenue Montaigne.

Maria Sidelnikova

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