A ruined palace, the rhythmic beat of drums, pools of water lit with floating candles, torch flames licking the cool night air. Was this a scene from Game of Thrones? Not even close.
Welcome to Dior Cruise 2020. Set in the magnificent open air space of El Badi Palace in Marrakech, Morocco, this showcase is where European savoir faire and North African craftsmanship collided. It’s safe to say the rare and wonderful meeting of disparate elements and themes gave rise to one of Maria Grazia Chiuri’s most powerful collections to date.
If you haven’t been paying attention, the world is in a pretty fragile state. Political destabilization is occurring at a more rapid pace due to the rise of far-right ideologies, AI is threatening to displace a huge percentage of the human workforce, and the climate is teetering on the brink of preventable collapse. To Chiuri’s way of thinking, unity is needed now more than ever. Instead of imposing ideas, she’s writing a dialogue between a global intersection of women; her collections have a huge social voice behind them and make the audience aware of far more than just next season’s purchases.
Chiuri’s strength has always been telling a magnificent story alongside her collections, but this time around, it was the clothes that spun the spell.
In essence, Dior has become the perfect marriage of commerce and culture, the ultimate melting pot, the place where women from every walk of life feel seen and are dressed in ways that show clear respect for their respective histories. This is how North Africa looks, filtered through Dior’s rarefied lens. Before you cry “cultural appropriation”, take note that Chiuri was careful to consider the input of anthropologist Anne Grosfilley, who consulted on the wax fabrics that are traditionally thought to be African in origin. And while the textiles were African made, created by Ivory Coast-based factory Uniwax, they were rendered into forms that were chic enough for any modern wardrobe.
As the urgency of ancient drum beats and warble of fluttering flutes soon melted into a thudding beat, Chiuri’s well-hewed dress silhouettes were reborn, their surfaces radically altered by a terrain of striking prints and scenery. Leaves, bushy undergrowth, hypnotic mandalas, and smoky swirls blended together in a multicolored tapestry as wax fabrics with raw hems became the canvas for telling Dior’s globe-trotting story. While it was recognizably a Dior collection created by Chiuri with the aid of a cadre of collaborators – as is her custom – it felt different.
Maybe it was the haunting melody that pulsed through the amphitheater or the seductive romance of glowing candles and crisp fires, but this collection felt more soulful, more self-assured. Chiuri’s strength has always been telling a magnificent – and even educational – story alongside her collections, but this time around, it was the clothes that spun the spell.