Dior Deserves to Be in the History Books for This

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For Dior Spring 2020 Couture, Maria Grazia Chiuri ruminated on a broad question and the many narrower ones it then prompted. What if women ruled the world? Across massive banners hanging in the show space lingered follow-up questions like: “Would there be equal parenting?” “Would old women be revered?” “Would private property exist?” And finally, most pertinent to the show at hand was: “Would god be female?”

Imagined inside a cavernous room carpeted in plush purple, which imitated the interior of a womb, a fully realized installation by feminist artist Judy Chicago called The Female Divine encased the Dior Spring 2020 Couture runway. And down said runway, Chiuri sent her goddesses incarnate draped in peplos tunics traditional to Ancient Greece, gold braided sandals, laurel wreath hairpieces, and soft satin suiting.

Dior Spring 2020 Couture
Photo: Courtesy of Imaxtree

The aesthetic harkened back to a time when preternatural creatures like Aphrodite mythologically ruled on Mount Olympus. Legend has it that when Aphrodite was first seen by the Trojan hero Aeneas, he “viewed her form in amazement, wondering at her stature, her beauty, her glorious garments”. Metaphorical forms of Hera, Medusa, Pandora, and Athena were also represented in the collection.

By telling the story through the lens with which we see her today, Dior depicts the goddess as she should have been all along.

The archetypal goddess, eternal in her splendor, was found throughout the collection in dozens of fibrous lamé dresses and gauzy chiffon gowns with waistlines articulated by woven-rope belts. In testament to the excellence of Dior’s couture atelier, many of these looks were so complex they couldn’t be rendered in toile – which is usually step one of the creative process – but were developed in real fabrics, making them far more expensive to create.

However, to take the meaning of a goddess-forward collection on its face would be to ignore the inherent misogyny of mythology. In Ancient Greece and Rome, goddesses were not the revered, omnipotent, omnipresent counterparts to gods. Instead, they were characterized as manipulative, deceitful, conceited – and in the case of Pandora, the cause of all suffering in the world. Both societies were completely patriarchal at the time, and their mythologies run counter to the modern idea of the goddess. By telling the story through the lens with which we see her today – the eternal symbol of beauty, nurturance, protection, and perfection – Dior depicts the goddess as she should have been all along.

See how the incredible showspace designed by Judy Chicago came together in the scenery video below.

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