For all of the talk of Fashion Week returning to regularly scheduled (physical) programming in September, Dior’s Fall 2020 Couture presentation proves how fruitful the exploration of the outer reaches of creativity can be, how bountiful the yield. There is a tension now between the old vanguard and the new, the ones who want to keep doing things the way they’ve always been done, and the bright, young things looking to explore worlds beyond.
Digital shows and collection presentations are becoming more mainstream, while at the same time, there are gatekeepers who firmly believe in fashion’s long-standing tradition of inaccessibility. But with Dior’s Fall 2020 Couture video entitled ‘Le Myth Dior’, directed by Matteo Garrone, one quickly realizes what it means to be truly transported by storytelling, to be mesmerized by an otherworldliness that simply does not exist in the physical realm.
The video presentation begins at every collection’s genesis: in the couture atelier. We bear witness to the quiet symphony of dozens of petit mains as they work in harmony on the tiny dress forms in front of them. Instead of adult-sized couture gowns, they are creating miniature versions – a literal scaling back that has as much to do with real-life fabric shortages as it does the fantasy storyline of the video.
Truly, in times of crisis, fashion becomes unified around certain ideas, the main being an idea of change necessitated by privation. When fabrics were rationed during World War II, the lack of material gave rise to short skirts. For Dior Fall 2020 Couture, it meant taking Maria Grazia Chiuri’s full-fledged creations and shrinking them down; minute details become microscopic, but the skilled hands of the petit mains still rendered them flawlessly.
From the atelier, we are taken to a bucolic forest, where porters carry a dollhouse (which resembles Dior’s 30 Avenue Montaigne address) like it were a lady-in-waiting. Slowly, the forest gives up its secrets. The porters stand before the forest’s many mythological creatures and proffer their goods. Mermaids, naiads, goddesses, and dryads peek shyly at the dresses gestured toward them, selecting each with a sense of wonder.
A multitude of mythological and classical paintings are referenced in the video. There is Narcissus trailing his fingers lazily in a pool of water as he gazes at his reflection. Pan, the God of creation, and the nymph Syrinx are paired together, and flame-haired naiads appear as if straight out of a John William Waterhouse painting. Art imitates life, life imitates art. In this fantasy, there’s no telling what begat what.
As the fairytale video sees each mythological subject transfigured as they change into the Dior Fall 2020 Couture looks they selected, the true nature of the haute couture métier is brought home.
Art imitates life, life imitates art. In this fantasy, there’s no telling what begat what.
It is the most individualized form of fashion that exists, literally made to your exact measurements, and abiding by strict codes of design. It offers nothing short of transformation into your Divine best. Naked as they came, the mythological gods, goddesses, and nymphs become more astonishing when dressed in couture, each look befitting the beauty and nature of its subject.
The video captures that idea in a magical and surprisingly humorous way. In keeping with the fantasy, the dresses are gauzy and goddess-like, nipped in at the waist, and shaped by plissé pleats and cloud-like fabrications.
At the finale, the video arrives back at the atelier. When it returns, one is struck by an alteration in the idea of petit mains – they have become elves in an enchanted workshop, spinning and conjuring and creating magic.