The Fabulous World of Dior: A first look at Dior’s festive takeover of Harrods
The Fabulous World of Dior is a twinkling takeover that sees the world-famous department store transformed by the French fashion house into a magical mise-en-scène, with its facade illuminated and every one of its 44 Christmas windows a glittering masterpiece.
Inside is no less impressive with the Dior café and not one, but two pop-ups selling limited edition gifts and collectors’ items, as well as an interactive exhibition; Kingdom of Dreams. Little wonder this is the biggest brand takeover to date for Harrods, taking 19 months of planning and six months of construction. It’s particularly poignant, too, as Monsieur Dior – the founder of the atelier – was a fervent admirer of England and it was in Harrods that Christian Dior’s London fashion house first took up residence in 1953.
The centrepiece of The Fabulous World of Dior is the dazzling illuminated installation that stretches along the exterior of the Brompton Road edifice. It’s the first time in Harrods’ history that the lights have been so dramatically changed. The new 3D display is inspired by sketches artist Pietro Ruffo curated for the Dior cruise 2023 collection and as dusk falls, they tell the story of the couture house and its founder.
There are twinkling roses, a bloom close to the couturier’s heart, shining lucky stars and a gleaming ship, all glistening against the ornate Edwardian architecture. At the centre is the brand’s compass star – aka the Shepherd’s Star – which at 17 metres high is the building’s largest structure to date. A team of 200 worked on the facade for more than a year and the installation took two weeks. Around the corner on Hans Crescent, the entrance at Door n°5 is bedecked with a forest of biscuit fir trees. The whole effect is enchanting, bathing Knightsbridge in a luminescent glow.
The window displays are equally as dazzling. From Brompton Road to Hans Crescent, via part of Basil Street, they’ve been designed to take the customer on a journey through the maison’s rich heritage – from fashion through to beauty. Each window is a theatrical wonder, brought to life by a gingerbread tableau and adorned with delicate details. Everywhere you look there’s the golden tones of the spiced biscuit, as well as sculpted sugar and caramel, piped icing and coloured candy. Amongst the dazzling confectionery displays are Dior outfits designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri for the Dior cruise 2023 line, as well as the Dior Maison creations inspired by this collection.
In one window, gingerbread men and women cut, stitch and press to create exquisite haute couture. In another, a star-shaped dollhouse made of the biscuit is filled with tiny cookie teddies, frosted dresses and the most intricate furnishings. In other displays, lipsticks and fragrances – such as J’adore, Eau Sauvage, Miss Dior and the olfactory works of La Collection Privée – make an appearance, sometimes within a pine forest of cookies, others amidst a flurry of candy balloons.
Inside the store, it’s every bit as bewitching. The two Dior pop up boutiques are as fairytale fabulous as each other. The first has been designed as a replica of Monsieur Dior’s atelier – but in a traditional gingerbread house style. Here, leather goods and micro-bags are displayed amongst moving displays and optical illusions – the Lady Dior herself transported along a conveyor belt in a moment of magic.
The second pop up has been conceived as a refined cabinet of curiosities, an homage to the art of giving so deeply rooted in the history and identity of the House. Here you’ll find the perfect present, from ready-to-wear, including festive knitted sweaters and a series of tee-shirts featuring prints that bear Chiuri’s socially aware vision, to Dior Chez Moi homewares.
Beauty also gets a dreamy spin with two news spaces in-store. The first has been created around the couture fragrances of La Collection Privée Christian Dior, tracing the history of Dior through its signature compositions. Here, the customer is invited on a sensory journey, while a dreamlike tableau adorned with Ruffo’s sketches adds to charm. The second space is a boutique and “gallery of marvels” with unique editions of Dior fragrances, sumptuous gift sets and the famous Dior advent calendars displayed alongside the House’s timeless icons, from makeup to skincare.
The specially-created Le Café Dior is billed as a tribute to British hospitality. The entire space is adorned with… gingerbread, from the facade and decor down to the tiniest details. This is Hansel and Gretel but with a luxe spin. Chairs are dressed in iconic Dior toile de Jouy, while the lines of the Maison’s signature cannage decorate the tableware.
The French-British menu offers the likes of Cornish crab with green apple, Atlantic lobster Thermidor, and roasted chestnut velouté with winter chanterelles. And don’t miss the specially-created gingerbread biscuits in the shape of Dior’s most iconic symbols including the Dior Book Tote, Saddle and Lady Dior bags, the compass rose, the J’adore perfume, the Oblique suit and the signature CD Diamond motif.
And, finally, the icing on the cake has to be Kingdom of Dreams, the free, bookable exhibition in the basement, which recreates some of Dior’s most famous locations – from Granville to La Colle Noire and 30 Montaigne – in gingerbread. The installations here are breathtaking, not least the miniature replicas of Dior’s most famous dresses – just 6cms tall and made in the actual atelier – which spin amongst snowy peaks of soft white meringues. A fantasy universe entirely created from cookies, with added optical effects and animation… Dior has Christmas all wrapped up.
The Fabulous World of Dior at Harrods opens 10 November until 3 January 2023