Last night I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) Gala celebrating the opening of The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture. My family bought me my ticket back when the gala was first announced; I purchased my dream dress not long after and have been counting down the days in the lead up.
So what did I get for my $500 ticket?
The Opportunity To Dress Up
The moment I saw a particular red dress on the runway of Simone Rocha’s collection before last, I knew I had to have it. I have always been a fan of the British designer’s intelligent, subversive designs and like to snap up key pieces when I can afford them. I waited for the dress to come onto Net-a-Porter and, as it was many thousands of dollars, I waited for it to go on super sale before whipping out my credit card. It has been sitting in my dressing room for months waiting for the Gala to roll around to make its debut.
Red Carpet Fun
The NGV had erected a special marquee to act as the red carpet entrance to the gallery. Guests were funneled to the right or left depending on their importance and extravagance of dress. After taking our photos on what I dubbed ‘the regular people’ side of the red carpet, we (my mum was my date) hovered at the end to watch some of the ‘special’ people arrive.
We witnessed a string of local VIPs arrive: Catriona Rountree, Cate Ceberano, Sam Woods and Snezana Markoski of The Bachelor fame, Tash Sefton and Elle Ferguson arrive. We had seen on Instagram that Nicole Kidman, Elizabeth Olsen and Winnie Harlow had arrived earlier in the evening for the pre-gala dinner but they were nowhere to be seen once everyone else had started arriving.
Access to the Exhibition
After scoping the scene, appreciating the floral displays by Flowers Vasette, and sipping some Moet, we made our way into the exhibition, which opened with Christian Dior’s original New Look ensemble. To see the iconic wasp waist and padded hips of the jacket combined with the cut and length of the skirt in real life sent a shiver down my spine.
Clever use of mirrors, elevated platforms and rotating stages meant that each look was presented in such a way that the viewer could appreciate it from all angles. The work of each designer throughout the storied couture house’s history was represented, suits designed by Christian Dior himself, gowns by Yves Saint Laurent, statement couture by John Galliano, simple and elegant confections by Raf Simons through to embroidered tulle dresses designed by current creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri.
Images cannot do the exhibition justice; these are gowns that need to be seen in real life to appreciate the incredible detail, craft and skill that has gone into producing these wearable works of art.
Part of the fun of an event such as this is the people and outfit watching. And boy was there an interesting mix of looks ranging from avant-garde to passé. Huge ball gowns with trains were abundant as were gowns revealing rather a lot of fake tanned flesh. Rebecca Judd’s J’Aton Couture gown was perhaps the largest, followed by Havana Brown. Nadia Bartell, also in J’Aton won the prize for showing the most leg.
Many women turned out in their best Dior as to be expected. Men went all out in sequined blazers and bold accessories, while tulle was popular, lace, fur and sequins were popular for women.
Other people we came across on the evening included actress Kat Stewart, ethical fashion advocate Claire Press, models Annalise Suebert, Fernanda Ly and Jacinta Franklin as well as various fashion media personalities and insiders.
Australian songstress Kimbra treated us to a live performance which culminated in a gold confetti explosion followed by a DJ set from Yolanda Be Cool.
Delicious Food and Drinks
It seemed everywhere you looked was a waiter plying guests with Moet; however, the advertised cocktails were nowhere to be found. Renowned chef James Henry was in charge of providing the many morsels on offer. I somehow missed out on getting a single savoury snack but this proved beneficial as I then had sufficient appetite for the many delicious tiny desserts.
At the end of the night we went home with an NGV goodie bag including the exhibition book as well as a Dior fragrance.
All in all it was an incredible evening celebrating fashion and one that is set to become an annual pilgrimage in the manner of the Met gala. The exhibition itself is not be missed and well worth a trip to Melbourne.