Designed to showcase work by 20th century illustrator René Gruau for fashion brand Dior, the exhibition opened with a collage of posters featuring Gruau's work, incased in a eight-metre box with a timber frame and coloured gauze covering.
Similar structures were used to hang works in the exhibition itself, while smaller stacked boxes spelled out the exhibition name.
Grey netting was used to cover a vaulted alcove housing a selection of Dior Haute Couture dresses.
The exhibition, called Dior Illustrated: Rene Gruau and the Line of Beauty, took place 10 Nov 2010 to 9 Jan 2011.
The information that follows is from Gschwendtner:
‘Dior Illustrated: Rene Gruau and the Line of Beauty’ at Somerset House
‘Dior Illustrated’ celebrates the renowned illustrator René Gruau, who created some of the most iconic fashion images of the 20th century. This exciting exhibition showcases groundbreaking artworks including original illustrations for Christian Dior Perfumes, vintage perfume bottles, sketches and magazines, as well as a selection of Dior Haute Couture dresses.
The challenge for the exhibition design was to create a spatially stunning environment for the predominantly two-dimensional works. Furthermore, the Embankment Gallery with its vaulted ceilings and stone coloured render required a design that complements its unique architecture.
Gitta Gschwendtner’s design solution creates a stunning installation of timber frame boxes covered in coloured gauze. These light three-dimensional structures form the main exhibition build for the hanging of the prints and object display.
On entering the exhibition the visitor encounters an 8 meters long gauze box containing a collage of Dior advertisements. This exhibit introduces Rene Gruau’s prolific work prior to seeing the original illustrations that form the basis for the advertisement prints upstairs.
Further along a large-scale installation of red gauze boxes showcases the exhibition title while introducing the concept of the transparent exhibition structures to the visitor.
In the main gallery gauze boxes are staggered in the space loosely following the shape of the vaulted ceiling. The transparent gauze creates layers of colour in the space, with each section custom dyed in a different shade to compliment the work. The precious couture dresses are dramatically lit behind a screen of grey gauze, protecting them from visitors touch and giving them an ethereal quality.
Exhibition Design: Gitta Gschwendtner
Graphic Design: Studio Frith
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