In Dior’s Fall 2017 Couture show, Chiuri presents a relaxed version of the iconic New Look silhouette.
From the Baths of Diocletian to the Colosseum and the Pantheon, Maria Grazia Chiuri’s home city of Rome is steeped in ancient history. So accustomed to absorbing and interpreting history according to her own unique sartorial vision, Chiuri is gracious with the past, telling the New York Times, “You have to live with your past in a beautiful way.” Although she is the first woman to helm the ship at Dior since the house was founded, she is – in many ways – the ideal person to carry it into the future. Not only is she capable of translating the needs of the modern-day woman into accessible, in-demand collections, but she is careful to include Dior’s DNA in the process.
Although she is the first woman to helm the ship at Dior since the house was founded, she is – in many ways – the ideal person to carry it into the future.
With a chance to make Dior’s past relevant in the wake of its 70th anniversary celebrations, Chiuri brought storied archives to life. The mirror she held up to the brand was fleshed out further by a huge nearby retrospective exhibition on the brand’s founder, entitled ‘Designer of Dreams’, and her Fall 2017 Couture collection acted as an aqueduct that flowed from the founding of the maison in 1947 all the way to the present, including epochs established by previous designers like Marc Bohan and John Galliano.
For that reason, there was distinct vintage appeal to a large portion of the collection, which pointed to fashion’s post-austerity era. After years of rationing to offset the depletion of goods during World War II, women desired a return to excess in order to distance themselves from the tribulations of war. House founder Christian Dior and his vision of blossoming flower women “with rounded shoulders, full feminine busts, and hand-span waists above enormous spreading skirts” became the poster image of the New Look, which redefined fashion forever.
The sheer skirt has become something of a Chiuri-for-Dior signature, which she employs to create lightweight elegant volumes.
For Fall 2017 Couture, Chiuri presented a relaxed version of the iconic New Look silhouette by draping her designs in generous heaps of fabric, which created long, elegant lines. Padding was removed from the hips and waists were whittled – not by interior boning but by wrapping, belting, and seaming. Done in heavyweight gabardine wool and multiple shades of gray, these pieces took on a timeless appearance.
While the first third of the show was devoted to longline silhouettes and heavy wools, there was a distinct lightening up that occurred directly after, introduced in the pairing of kimono-sleeved embroidered jackets and sheer maxi skirts. The sheer skirt has become something of a Chiuri-for-Dior signature, which she employs to create lightweight elegant volumes. She build on this by turning out whole looks in shingled chiffon or by covering a see-through gray gown with embroidered, ropey fringe. Many looks were a balance of long, opaque cover-ups and sheer dresses, emitting both a modest and flirtatious personality. Meanwhile, vivid “map” prints, designed by Italian artist Pietro Ruffo, referenced Monsieur Dior’s many travels. Velvet gowns with sculpted bustiers and painted silk dresses offered a dense counterpoint to so much featherweight chiffon.
While the inclusion of Dior’s past points of inspiration – baroque balls, safari adventures, and the pastoral scenery of his childhood home in Granville – indicate Chiuri’s faithfulness to the archives, this couture collection is practically indistinguishable from ready-to-wear. It certainly offers a more understated approach to the high-fashion category, but perhaps its accessibility is what makes Dior Couture such an alluring prospect for women who would normally never buy a couture gown.