I have lost count of how often I feel grateful to live in this quintessentially beautiful part of England, especially at this time of year. To be surrounded by the lush scenery of green fields dotted with sheep, to bumble down country lanes accompanied by birdsong, or to swim in the sea against a background of yellow ochre cliffs that tower up to meet a vast expanse of blue sky, is truly a blessing.
Important as it is to appreciate what we have in life, there are moments when we still need to get away from it all. When routines and to-do lists consume us, it is just as important to jump off the merry-go-round, take a break from normality and enjoy a change of scenery. A recent invitation to a launch event in London reminded me how much I needed a creative shake-up. Having finished two projects and being shortly due to start a new one, I grabbed the opportunity to fit in a 24-hour escape to recharge my batteries.
I wholeheartedly agree that ‘a change is as good as a rest’, even if organising a break in a busy schedule, child- or pet-sitters, transport and accommodation can be time-consuming and stressful. When I hop on the train, find a seat and breathe a sigh of relief, it is all worth it. My trip was not a holiday but on my return I certainly felt rejuvenated.
I cram as much as I can into my trips away keeping up to date with all things interiors, attending product launches and design shows and catching up with friends and work colleagues to share news and passion for our craft. For me, inspiration is everywhere, and galleries and museums are as important as my favourite interior shops. So, a trip to London often involves a stop at the V&A museum, and my recent visit to the Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition did not disappoint. In last month’s article I touched on the link between interior design and the fashion industry, how we can take inspiration from fashion design incorporating colours, pattern, shape, form and texture into our homes to create a striking and truly individual interior design. It is fair to say that Dior’s work itself was literally a change of scenery in the fashion world. If you are interested in design and haven’t been to this exhibition, I recommend that you go.
I wandered around gazing at the splendour of Dior through the ages, from the first groundbreaking Paris debut collection of 1947, up to the present day with the successors that followed him after his untimely death in 1957. The work processes are laid out with illustrations, photographs and notes, miniature dresses, toiles from the atelier, and the finished pieces beautifully displayed. The lighting and set decorations create a dream-like state as crowds of spectators move from room to room. I admit there were moments where I was moved to tears, humbled by the beauty of the designs and skilled craftsmanship.
The lavish attention to detail is breathtaking - dresses embellished with flowers in all manner of materials and styles, intricate beadwork, embroidery and colour everywhere, accessories - hats, bags, gloves and shoes, lipsticks and fragrances - all there in abundance. I was interested in everything but, with a limited amount of time, I was happy to take it all in at face value, noting the cut and drape of the pieces in a sculptural context. My train ride home was spent contemplating the many ways we can learn from the talent of others, and incorporate elements of a design to inform and improve our own art, often across very different professions.
So yes, a change of scenery helps to refresh and energise the soul, blowing away all the cobwebs. This also seems true for Dior himself, and I leave you with his words about our beloved part of the planet:
"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."
Honoured, even if the last sentiment is a little bit cheeky.
Published in the July 2019 edition of Bridport Times magazine: bridporttimes.co.uk