Christian Dior: Disturbing Beauty on International Women’s Day
If the pandemic has underlined anything in the hyper competitive world of high fashion it is which creative director at a major house is the most 360 contemporary designer. That honor has to fall to Maria Grazia Chiuri, who unveiled another beautiful video show for the house of Christian Dior on Monday, March 8, International Women’s Day.
Where so many other designers have struggled to exploit the format of a virtual video runway show – and often the bigger the budget, the bigger the bust – Chiuri has if anything enhanced the reputation of Dior, with skillful intermarriages of cinema, imagery, dance, lighting and fashion.
That was again true on Tuesday, where she collaborated with two very talented women; choreographer Sharon Eyal and conceptual artist Silvia Giambrone. Chiuri’s inspiration was actually fairy tales and the show began with a bold display of dance inside the woods of the Versailles chateau, Eyal’s troupe in precise Dior ribbed body suits, backing onto a tepid winter sun.
Though these were far from insipid children’s tales, in a show entitled Beauté Dérangeante, or Disturbing Beauty, opening with a model in a diaphanous black lace gown laying down in a field of autumn leaves at midnight.
A dozen harpies then leading the action into the Hall of Mirrors, the other theme of this collection; the symbolism of “women passing through a mirror to realize who they are, in a voyage of self-discovery,” as Chiuri expounded in a pre-show Zoom with Italian editors.
Dior’s Versailles incorporated the work of Giambrone, an in-situ installation that covered the mirrors with wax and prickly acacia, symbolic suggestions on how culture is not equally shared between peoples and genders.
A show rich in symbolism, and rippling with clever and dramatic clothes – from the crisp white shirts or dresses with men’s cotton piqué breastplates and the suave ruffled chiffon little black dresses to the beautiful rose petaled trench-coats and sporty cabans and jackets in regenerated nylon. In a further fabric innovation, super flight jackets in shearling that turned out to be recycled wool.
Plus, the memorable return of an archive print from Monsieur Dior’s friend, fabric innovator Andrée Brossin de Méré, as Chiuri used a blurring technique to add a modern chromatic aspect. And, a new bar jacket cut with a side panel to maintain the silhouette, yet lighten the line.
Toy soldier references in the blue cashmere coats; childhood dreams evoked in the gold-and-silver thread lame and lurex jacquard dresses. Climaxing with exaltant beauty – a series of plissé asymmetrical evening dresses with a real wow factor in this Hall of Shadows film, shot by Fabien Baron.
“Films can never be the same experience as a live catwalk show. Because at a live show, the audience is part of the event. But, still, I think we achieved something special here. The idea of doing this in Versailles seemed at first impossible, given how sensitive and complicated French authorities can be, especially during this period. So, I have to say, I was I was agreeably surprised that they were so open and positive about this project. We appreciated that, and I thank them,” added the Italian couturier.
Chiuri, the first woman to design Dior in its 75-year history, didn’t always have it easy at Dior. Her initial agit-prop feminism and decisive Roman manner did encounter a certain Parisian froideur. But the house’s brilliant commercial results and, above all, her ability to win a legion of followers among a very wide array of women, has seen her emerge as a true fashion star.
All the more this season, as Dior pushed back the date of today’s show on the Paris fashion calendar to fall on International Women’s Day. Few creators in any artistic endeavor currently empower women more than Maria Grazia. Even this past weekend, where Dior starred with a great series of looks worn as far apart as San Remo, Italy’s great song festival, and the Critic’s Choice Awards in Los Angeles.
Dior has never been a red carpet slouch, but here again, Chiuri has guided the house to a new level. Once again, 360 designing at its best.
“I believe in the end authenticity speaks; and that what’s important is that slowly but surely this vision of mine has gathered a large audience. Maybe, at the beginning, it was tricky given the great history of the brand and the way Dior also represents the history of fashion. My approach was very transparent, to take the codes of the house and use them in an intellectual manner with tranquillity. So, maybe, it has taken a little time to accept. But, you know, creativity is a long-term project. You have to work at it every day, step by step. It is not a sudden vison when you wake up in the morning!” she said, perched on a Dior-gray Louis 16th couch, her latest creations standing like toy soldiers behind her.
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