I’ve taken to wearing trainers these days. Not very Parisienne, I hear you say. I gave up on the heels when I realised I could cover so much more of London in a day with a bit of padding between me and the London beat. And recently, someone had the audacity to tell me that my Ferragamos were making far too much noise as I clickety-clicked around the Tate Britain. How cheeky. But just as you wouldn’t want to hear a crisp packet rustling in the middle of a really good piece of theatre, perhaps Madame Rude was right: who wants to hear Londoness prancing around a museum when you could be enjoying the arty view in blissful silence?
But the Ferragamos did get an outing this week, because Christian Dior, in all his glittering magnificence, moved into the Victoria and Albert Museum for what will surely be the most-talked about exhibition this year. Can you imagine pitching up for that in sneakers? Pitié, non!
Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at the V and A
“There is no other country in the world, besides my own, whose way of life I like so much. I love English traditions, English politeness, English architecture. I even love English cooking,” said Christian Dior. What an entente cordiale if ever I heard one, enough to lift us out of the Brexit blues for a moment (but seriously, English cooking?)
Dior really did have a penchant for all things British. He held his first UK fashion show at the Savoy Hotel and another fashion spectacular at Blenheim Palace in 1955. His fabulous clients included Princess Margaret (who wore Dior in that Cecil Beaton shot for her 21st birthday), Margot Fonteyn and Nancy Mitford.
Highlights, of which there are hundreds, include the Baccarat perfume bottle designs for Miss Dior, the 1947 Bar Suit that would change fashion forever, and the Ballroom, celebrating all things ball-ish and showcasing 70 pieces of Cinderella-worthy evening wear.
Is it ok to say an exhibition was delicious? Because this is what Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams was. It was a delectable morsel of fashion history heaven from start to finish. With over 500 objects and 200 rare haute couture pieces, this exhibition is going for gold.
You can catch this merry-go-round of exquisiteness at the V and A until 14 July 2019. Just remember to dress up for the occasion. As they say in French, it is la moindre des politesses. It’s the least you could do for Monsieur Dior.
Tango fire at the Peacock Theatre, Sadler’s Wells
Staying with heels, how on earth do tango dancers do what they do in those ballroom shoes? Tango is in my blood (just a shame I have two left feet). My Uruguayan father grew up in Argentina and was a lover of tango. The famed bandoneon player, Juan Jose Mosalini, lived in my Parisian house with us when he first emigrated to Paris in 1977 (I seem to remember he took over my bedroom for a long, long sabbatical). It’s a strange and haunting instrument, and the bellowing sound instantly takes me back to the top floor of my ivy-clad home where Mosalini played, and sometimes further back to Buenos Aires where I would visit my family.
Nostalgia was on full throttle this week when I settled into my seat at the Peacock Theatre for Tango Fire. I watched 12 dancers perform acrobatics with their legs, the likes of which you have never seen. It was like watching Edward Scissorlegs on speed. The bandoneon was pulled and pushed by Clemente Carrascal.
Now in its seventh sizzling season at the Peacock Theatre, Tango Fire is a medley of seductive dance and musical acts, orchestrated with precision and passion. The group dances are choreographed by Germán Cornejo, supported by his partner Gisela Galeassi. The ensemble of 10 other couples choreograph their own routines. It’s sexy and fun, and this Londoness bandoneoned her way back to Buenos Aires for a couple of hours, if only in that silly head of hers. Tango Fire is on until 16 February at the Peacock Theatre, Sadlers Wells. Book here.
The Wallace Collection Late
If you haven’t been to the Wallace Collection in Marylebone yet, here’s a really good reason to visit: a museum Open House with drinks, curator talks and a taster of Garsington Opera’s upcoming season. 25 February. Book here.
David Walliams’ Marvellous Musical Podcast
On Monday 4 February, the best-selling author and TV personality David Walliams, launches a 10-part podcast aimed at the kiddywinks: David Walliams’ Marvellous Musical Podcast. The episodes will introduce children to composers such as Mozart, Liszt and Clara Schumann, and will explore ballet, the history of the piano and some of the world’s strangest instruments. For more information, go to the BBC website.
Theatre Treasures at the National Theatre
Celebrating 25 years of the National Theatre Archive, a new exhibition reveals some of the treasures of the collection. The National Theatre invited theatre-makers, playwrights and researchers to choose an object which inspires them from the Archive. Their responses sit alongside the objects in the Theatre Treasures exhibition. Free entry.
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