Dior: Rivolta Femminile
A return to the roots at Christian Dior, though mainly to Maria Grazia Chiuri’s youth in Rome and not to Christian’s boy hood in Paris in a composed, commercial and chic collection for fall/winter 2020/21.
Though nostalgic, this show didn’t look outmoded, as Chiuri referenced the iconic women of the '60s and '70s and the Italian photographers of that era. Though reimagining them in her own personal wardrobe – jeans, bold checks, semi-sheer dresses and hard-working boots.
She opened with a beautiful tomboyish suit, like a teenage diary image; then moved to a perfectly cut slip dress, cut revealingly with a deep gorge, dissected with a CD logo belt and anchored with combat boots like a young woman finding her aesthetic, expressing herself through fashion. Just like the young Chiuri. She confessed in a pre-show preview with the Italian press that when she asked her mother if she could attend art school as a teenager, her mum responded by sending her to the strictest college in Parioli, the haute bourgeois district of the Eternal City.
Her response was mirrored in this collection, subverting classical clothes with an indie edge; from the mannish blazers worn with plissé skirts and hiking boots to the leather biker jackets worn with college ties. Or wearing a black silk tie over a see-through blouse over a logo bra. Racy, yes, but very much in charge. Most of the cast wore head scarves, berets or newspaper boys’ caps.
The Dior designer even varied the lengths enormously, from mini dresses ideal for dancing in Rome’s famous Piper Club to at-the-knee for meetings with authors like those she referenced in her program notes. To mid-calf skirts, this season paired with ergonomic construction boots or pale Dior-gray galoshes. All the way to a series of divine knit columns finished in mosaic patterns.
Chiuri also sent out some splendid fringed items – plaid cape coats; woolen head-girl skirts; or Dolce Vita party frocks. Very much in synch with lots of shows in Milan, where every second collection had fringes.
“I must confess, I had no idea we were going to see all these fringes. But I like them a lot,” smiled Chiuri.
A packed show presented inside the Tuileries gardens, within a giant tent composed by the Claire Fontaine collective, which featured a whole series of illuminated signs hung from the ceiling. Combined they were a feminist manifesto that read: Women Raise the Uprising; Women are the Moon that Moves the Tides; Patriarchy=Climate Emergency or When Women Strike the World Stops.
Few designers have more emblematic mood boards than Chiuri, whose array of wits and beauties on her board today ranged from intellectuals like Palma Bucarelli and Carla Accardi to happening beauties like Brigitte Bardot, Jane Birkin and Bianca Jagger.
The catwalk was thousands of copies of French daily Le Monde set in silicon. One wonders how Le Figaro editors reacted to that choice? The soundtrack began with Ryuichi Sakamoto and ended with that ultimate Italian disco ballad, Ancora Tu by Roísín Murphy. Ideal music for the latest high-grade agit-prop fashion show stage dreamed up by Chiuri.
Permanently keeping ahead of the curve on social media, Dior had their first notable star from TikTok, 'une TikToker' with a very long 'r', as the French call them, called Taylor Hage, sitting front row. While from YouTube they had Liza Koshy, an activist in women’s education and a pal of Michelle Obama.
All told, another brainy empowering statement from Chiuri, using fashion to support women’s long struggle for equality, without beating a loud drum. And, even if this was not the greatest collection by Chiuri – since it felt like it travelled over slightly familiar terrain – it still contained some great fashion moments, and kept Dior highly relevant in the current zeitgeist.
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