A moment of contemplation and a collection of hyper-wearable clothes at Dior couture on Monday in the opening day of the Paris season, at a show packed with powerful female stars.
Glenn Close – all in pristine Dior white – sat close to Rihanna – in diaphanous black – along the front row from former French First Lady Carla Bruni, in a pristine white bar jacket, and house ambassador Natalie Portman, in a mini skirt and black blazer, braving the chilly Winter day in Paris.
This season the Dior couturier linked up with Isabella Ducrot, a Naples-born but Rome-based artist, whose giant installation Big Aura, adorned the walls in the custom-built show space in the Rodin Museum gardens.
Over a score of five-meter-high dresses pinned to the walls, over irregular black stripe wallpaper, suggesting the weft and warp of fabric. All echoing Ottoman sultan the dresses studied by Ducrot.
Before them marched a cast which first appeared in a great series of khaki looks, trench coats, coats dresses, trench cocktails. So good, they put Burberry to shame… But always with a soupçon of French finesse.
Though often restrained and carefully edited, every so often the collection exploded in light, with organza chemises, gowns and pants glistening with scrolls, foliage girandoles, beads, raffia and lacquered rhodoids. Paris couture at its most delicate.
Chiuri’s favorite fabric for this coming spring was a new light moiré, in iridescent gold, white, gray, burgundy, green. So, Chiuri said, it “unfurls over winter like a wave.” Seen in truly stylish new bar jackets, and the classic Dior New Look full skirt, they looked like couture must-haves at first glance.
Backed up by a soundtrack from sound architect Michelle Gaubert that starred Bjork and Rosalía’s soaring track Oral, and staged on an excellent fresh casting by veteran Michelle Lee this was a consummately professional show.
Chiuri explained that the installation’s idea of Aura refers to the fact that haute couture, “is a perpetually fertile ground for contemplation where the reproduction of the original is never the same.” Just as each garment is inevitably adapted to the body of its wearer, and hence carries its own specific aura.
Given the fact this was a couture collection, Chiuri’s inspiration did seem surprising. Both she and artist Ducrot cited Walter Benjamin and his famous opus The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Production as an inspiration, where he developed the concept of aura. It’s a text long cited by Marxists theorists as a vitally important theoretical work.
All told on a couture Monday that opened with Schiaparelli’s Paris Texas couture fireworks, Chiuri’s Dior was a far more reined in statement. But that’s what makes Maria Grazia such a powerful designer. She makes clothes women want to wear, and in many situations, many moods and many times.
“I have found out that my personality is always to want a certain functionality to anything I make. Each garment is a project, and I don’t forget that. Where functionality always must be taken into consideration. So, if I make a skirt, it should be a question of one button or an easy belt to put on even in the rarefied world of haute couture,” Chiuri explained in a pre-show preview.
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