Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Madame Rimsky Korsakov, 1864
Oil on canvas, Paris, Musée d’Orsay
© Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt

Vénus, Junon, Coup de théâtre, Soirée brillante: with their dazzling names and flamboyant styles, they guaranteed the women wearing them a spectacular entrance to any ball. Graceful, bold and supremely elegant, they played a part in the renaissance of society life after the war and revealed the extent of Christian Dior’s creativity. The couturier liked to venture beyond the confines of the haute couture world and design for costume balls, such as the “Entrance of Giants” outfits created with his friend Salvador Dalí for the Ball of the Century organized by Charles de Beistegui at the Palazzo Labia in 1951. There was nothing Dior loved more than a lavish ball, and he attended them dressed as characters who reflected his fertile imagination: the king of the jungle at the Kings and Queens ball thrown by Étienne de Beaumont in 1949, and Barbey d’Aurevilly at the Artists ball hosted by the Noailles in 1956.

John Galliano shared his passion for costumes and taking on different roles: in July 2007, he used the Versailles Orangery as the setting for a catwalk show on the theme of the Artists ball to mark the House of Dior’s 60th anniversary. From Naomi Campbell and Helena Christensen to Linda Evangelista, all the top models took part, wearing gowns inspired by the works of Renoir, El Greco, and Michelangelo.

Maria Grazia Chiuri for Christian Dior, New Junon dress, Spring-Summer 2017 Haute Couture collection
© Photo Les Arts Décoratifs, Paris / Nicholas Alan Cope

When she joined Dior as the new artistic director, Maria Grazia Chiuri understood the important role played by balls in the history of both the House and its founder. For her first show, she turned the Rodin museum gardens into a labyrinth inhabited by the head-turning swirl of her diaphanous dresses. One of them, the New Junon dress, strewn with delicately folded pastel-colored petals, paid tribute to a design from the legendary Milieu de siècle 1949 winter collection, dedicated to Roman goddess Juno, the queen of the gods.

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