During Maria Grazia Chiuri’s tenure as Creative Chief of Dior, the unapologetically feminist designer has assembled an army of fashionable, forward-thinking young women who respond to her every sartorial edict, be it “We Should all Be Feminist” tees and “naked” dresses or berets and logo straps. For Spring 2018 Couture, Chiuri revels in her now-familiar signatures, but a tacit nod to surrealism kept things very interesting.
Modeled after the works of Argentinian artist Leonor Fini, whose depictions of powerful women inspired both awe and outrage when they debuted in the 1930s, there were subtle, artistic cues everywhere. Some were even so hidden that it took a closer look backstage to fully comprehend their meaning, as was the case of subtle lettering stitched onto the body of a spectacular harlequin-checked skirt.
Monochrome looks led the show, which included a classic Bar-jacket silhouette that was transformed unexpectedly into two fetching polka-dotted dress-coats. The 1960s Mod Squad appeal of clean lines and monochrome palettes soon gave way to an elaborate demonstration of the skill of Dior’s legendary ateliers. The eye-candy unleashed with a whoosh of voluminous silk skirts – often patterned with swirls, checkers, or parabola shapes – which were married to clinging, strapless bodices.
The strength of Dior lies in its ability not only to court the modern-day thinking woman who loves fashion, but in also finding its way into her functioning wardrobe.
Throughout the collection, Chiuri often repeated her signature “naked” look – for the uninitiated, this means sheer dresses with cage bustiers – this time revamping the look with more elaborate caging details that climbed the shoulders and neck or created latticework etching down the entire surface of layered sheer gowns.
Sensory overload came in the form of myriad textures, be it feathers, tinsel fringe, sequin beading, windowpane cut-outs, Lurex mesh, and even crochet. One magical look in particular was decorated with eye-popping 3-dimensional ivory appliqués, which was a big hit on social media. Later on, a trompe l’oeil pewter gown revealed an astonishing surface that was hand-embroidered with thousands of micro metal beads that expertly mimicked a naked female torso – the covered uncovered look if you will.
While the craftmanship of the collection was superlative, there was a hitch in the messaging. It is a bit disappointing to see that Chiuri – a dyed-in-the wool feminist who makes no bones about her stance – is so determined to proceed with the “naked” gown as her signature, especially in light of the modesty movement – born from intersectional feminism – that rejects the male gaze in favor of the female.
#FreetheNipple or not, the majority of women are simply not comfortable wearing clothes that display their bits and pieces. Contrariwise, the tactic of pairing contrasting underwear with some of the “naked” gowns, especially in that mismatched shade of lemon yellow, was an unnecessary distraction – a tone-on-tone approach would have made for a more seamless pairing.
Regardless, the strength of Dior lies in its ability not only to court the modern-day thinking woman who loves fashion, but in also finding its way into her functioning wardrobe. There is little doubt that this collection will be eagerly received by the fashion faithful.