Before Christian Dior was a couturier, he was a young man who lived during the flourishing years of the Surrealist movement and became the first to feature a woman artist, Leonor Fini’s work in an exhibition in Paris. Championing women seems to have been the premise for the Parisian luxury fashion house from the very beginning and continues on in modern day Dior, with Maria Grazia Chiuri at the helm as the Artistic Director of the House’s women’s collections. Couture was as a vehicle which women used to play out their fantasies and materialising feminine power. Dior’s spring haute couture collection echoes this by specifically focusing in on the ideas of dreams and the subconscious of the Surrealist art movement.
The collection of 72 looks was composed in a dominantly monochrome colour palette, diversified with only speckles of silver and gold. The dresses that went down the catwalk featured popular motifs from the art movement such as caging and etched pleats, mixed in with some classic Dior elements like ties and the embroidered shirt. It was an amalgamation of ideas, all expressed in a manner of understated elegance only an accomplished house like Dior is able to execute. Checkerboard and stripes deceive the eye as they move in different directions on the body, enabling the clothes to portray an image of the multifaceted nature of a woman who dons these looks. The freedom in self-presentation was the key message proposed by Chiuri who was inspired by Fini’s devotion to the limitless modes of presenting oneself.
Chiuri extends the feminist agenda by fulfilling the modern needs of power-dressing through reshaping traditional menswear fabrics. Sharp trouser suits and finely tailored coat-dresses were sent down the runway, ending with a dark tuxedo with a cloak for a theatrical flair for the finale. All of the looks were complemented with sensual masks by Stephen Jones to really hit the Surrealist mark, alluding to an air of mystery and seductiveness. The elements of illusion and surprise thus comes to define the looks for this season. Although it is a step away from Dior’s more extravagant couture spectacles of the recent past, the collection nonetheless fulfills the purpose of couture by creating a unique space between fantasy and reality.
Watch what Chiuri has to say about the collection in her interview: