Last month, the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) in London opened the largest exhibition ever staged in the UK on the house of Dior.
Before even opening its doors, the exhibition had sold 37,000 tickets and just three weeks into its initial six-month run, all pre-bookable tickets were sold out. The museum has now extended it by seven weeks.
“Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams” comes four years after the V&A’s record-breaking “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” exhibition which cost £3m ($3.9m) to put together, a significantly bigger budget than past displays. It attracted more than 480,000 visitors making it their most popular exhibition ever.
While the V&A has been hosting fashion exhibitions since 1971, the scale and popularity of them has been growing in recent years. It’s not just the V&A either.
Last year at The Met Museum in New York, its “Heavenly Bodies” exhibition, exploring how Catholicism has influenced fashion, was visited by 1,659,647 people. It set a new record for visitor numbers for the museum, exceeding Treasures of Tutankhamun which had held the title since 1978.
This growing trend isn’t just good for museums, it’s also opening up fashion labels to new audiences and providing meaningful experiences with their brand.
“A lot of fashion houses now have their own archives because they’ve realized the importance of having that legacy and that there’s an interest in the history of the house,” says Oriole Cullen, curator of “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams” at the V&A. “From our point of view, we’re really happy to see more businesses are realizing the value of their archives and making them accessible too.”