Christian Dior Pre-Fall 2022: The sisters are doin’ it for themselves
Post-punks encountered urban gardeners in a frankly feminist though patently feminine Christian Dior pre-fall 2022 collection unveiled Monday in Paris, whose key inspiration was the founder of the house’s kid sister.
No show, nor even a video, but an archly lit lookbook of fashion, bristling with youthful energy inspired by Catherine Dior, whose life is the subject of a brilliant new biography entitled "Miss Dior, A Story of Courage and Couture" by Justine Picardie.
A courageous WW2 resistance member; muse of big brother Christian and expert florist, Catherine outlived Christian by nearly half a century, growing old and growing roses in Les Naÿssè, a tiny family farm in Provence. Land that still supplies ingredients to Miss Dior, the scent Christian named after her.
Dior’s women’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri even spent time in Les Naÿssè while Picardie penned her acclaimed book. The result is a collection that draws inspiration from the Provencal soil, with peasant dresses, gardening aprons and even a new bag, inspired by the jute bags the designer discovered that the family business used to pack compost. On which she emblazoned a new heraldic motif, and motto that reads "L’Union fait la force". The sisters are doing it for themselves this season chez Dior.
Moreover, Chiuri was also inspired by the multiple creative women which surrounded Monsieur, from mysterious and eccentric design muse Mizza Bricard – seen in the mesh veils and smokey eyes of the cast; and Marguerite Carré, the woman who turned Dior’s sketches into actual clothes.
“The start of this collection was the work of Justine and the dialogue I had while she wrote her book. Before, the general view of Dior was rather patriarchal and even limited. But there were many women that influenced Mr. Dior and his brand. In reality, Dior is a synthesis of all these elements used to create new ideas. I like to show that his work has a feminized idea, not due to silhouette but to the multiplicity of feminine influences,” argued Chiuri in a Zoom with Italian editors.
As a result, Chiuri interprets Dior, a house approaching 75 years of existence, as a multiplicity of possible feminine expressions; and her role as updating for today a complex and articulated DNA.
“Dior once said that femininity is a trap… So, in my five years here I have tried to tease out that the idea of femininity – but not from the silhouette but from the complex of women that surrounded Monsieur Dior and his brand,” the Roman-born Chiuri explained.
Pre-fall also riffs on multiple codes from floral prints to roses, while adding in elements of contemporary sportswear, from casual and active. Like leggings and soft collared tops reading "Dior New Look" or a white T-shirt that reads: "Femininity, the trap".
Monsieur Dior’s love of Britain reflected in great new plaids; especially spins on Macleod of Lewis tartans, seen in mohair ponchos, skorts and totes. Plus, the tailoring was excellent, from the Neapolitan-shouldered blazers to ergonomic white peacoats.
“All made in light fabrics with more voluminous shapes, since classic Dior materials would be too heavy for the world we live in today, and anachronistic,” said Chiuri, who also used the Dior code of gray to add a somber touch.
Her other big idea was playing with uniforms, from garden to factory to high school, recalling how she and her classmates subverted their high-school uniform in Rome, by hiking its skirt length. A workerist beige suit and gardener’s dress and tote are even stamped with "St Anne des usines Dior"; usine the French for factory.
“In a sense, uniforms are what make fashion. The idea that you gain strength by belonging to a group, while also remaining an individual. Which is what Catherine did in the Resistance,” said the Dior couturier, referring to the period during the war when she couriered German troop movements to the Allies, as they prepared for the liberation of Europe.
“I found it fascinating staying in the little farm. It was very intimate and simple, and where the family ended up for many years. In many ways, Monsieur Dior was a very simple person and very pragmatic man. In reality, he gave advice to women on how to feel better about themselves,” concluded Chiuri.
Very like this pre-fall collection, brimming with clever, commercial and cool clothes and advice, and one of the strongest Chiuri has ever created for the house of Dior.
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