Under the silky awning of a literal big tent, an expansive and impressive Dior Spring 2019 Couture show unfurled. Dubbed the #DiorDreamParade, one of Paris’ most heralded maisons injected the fussy world of couture with a sense of fun, a little razzle-dazzle, and a lot of highbrow technique. As acrobats performed awe-inspiring feats of strength and agility, models walked the red carpet in sartorial homages to the tentmaster, the clown, and the trapeze artist.
This season saw Maria Grazia Chiuri truly flexing her creative muscles, with designs that were more sculptural, more experimental, and more effusive than what we have seen from her in past couture shows. Married to a sense of whimsy, the spectacle was both a delight and a reminder of the strength of Dior’s specialized ateliers.
If the circus performances and elaborate set didn’t give away the theme, then the clothes, accessories, and makeup certainly did. From the outset, the looks were either ruffled pieces or beautifully cut suits, offering dual perspectives: one for the entertainers in their dramatically frilled dresses, and one for the ringleaders in their tailored suits trimmed with frog closures and gold buttons. Some dresses were appointed with circus stripes, diamond-shaped patchwork, and ribbons of multicolored maypole chiffon, while others were decorated with elaborate circus motifs like tigers jumping through flaming hoops.
While Dior’s show recalled simpler times, the confections on display were a clear reminder of why couture remains its own distinct métier.
The best moments of the collection came in the form of gleaming, Fortuny-pleated gowns that were nothing short of astonishing, each deserving of a moment of rapturous applause. Versions in brocatelle appliqués amplified Chiuri’s playful employment of unexpected textures, as did raffia woven breastplates. One completely stunning blush-pink chiffon dress covered in scalloped appliqués that were studded with tiny glittering stars will be on the red carpet in a heartbeat – mark our words. The costumes worn by high-flying balancing acts were heralded by tattooed body sleeves and glittering leotards.
Way back before our hands were glued to laptops that granted us access to the entire world, families used to gather in modest crowds to spend an evening of entertainment under the big top. Smiling faces would turn upwards to watch heart-stopping trapeze acts, witness unicycles cross impossibly thin ropes and clowns chase each other with a ribald array of props. Stepping back into time – if only for a brief moment – was a welcome respite from the fast-paced world outside. While Dior’s show recalled simpler times, the confections on display were immensely complicated, masterfully appointed, and a clear reminder of why couture remains its own distinct métier.