Dior: Next Era, New Look
A unlikely yet dramatically exuberant collection from Dior this season where Maria Grazia Chiuri blended novel garment technology and a fresh vision of women by great Renaissance master painters.
Maintaining a Dior tradition, the setting was pretty awesome. A series of some 200 faux paintings by Mariella Bettineschi, a giant art work entitled Next Era, or Era Successiva in Italian, custom-made for Dior, with black and white versions of great portraits of women.
Covering the entire show-space, a tent built inside the Tuileries Gardens. Ironically steps away from the Louvre painting galleries. For the largest audience at a fashion show since the pandemic first bit.
Inspired by galleries of paintings that emerged in Western Europe from the 15th century onwards. Where kings, queens and great art patrons would display paintings from the top to bottom of their walls and salons.
Images by great masters – including Leonardo, Manet, Botticelli and Goya - all of women: queens, infantas, duchesses; courtesans and odalisques. The only queen missing on the wall was the pregnant Rihanna, who arrived 40 minutes late in all-black spike heel boots; underwear and see-through negligee, all the better to expose her now significant bump.
Bettineschi doubled many portrait subject’s eyes in an invitation to look again at women in art history, and artists’ views of women. Which is what Grazia did too - reinterpreting Dior’s historical codes and designs with a modern twist.
Her first choice, the bar jacket, not seen as embodiment of femininity, but more as an expression of power. Welcome to a new technological bar jacket, since Dior teamed up with D-Air Lab to create a new hi-tech bodysuit, criss-crossed by air bags, and finished with light and heat insulation. The original hip stuffing for the classic bar was reportedly acquired in a local hardwear store by Pierre Cardin, Dior’s assistant. The 2022 version has leather on the outside like protective padding.
Around a dozen experimental pieces, including techy corsets; biker’s back protection and chunky shoulder pads; some to be sold, others for future exhibitions. And, since D-Air Lab is a division of a motorbike jacket maker, lots of biker gear – especially elbow-long protective gloves even worn with evening gowns.
The Italian couturier also focused on the famed Roger Vivier pump for Dior, the only case in the brand’s history where another designer had his name on a Dior label. Grazia reimagined Vivier’s footwear as sporty pumps and biker boots, many finished with Lily of the Valley, Christian’s signature flower.
Monsieur Dior was also in Maria Grazia’s thoughts as she riffed on an embroidered silk wall that once stood in Christian’s apartment in the 16th arrondissement. An image entitled Jardin d'Hiver, which formed the basis of the pattern she used in the latest edition of her fabric totes for Dior, the world’s most successful designer bag of the past half-decade.
Much of her process informed by reading her Italian predecessor Gianfranco Ferré’s writings where he reflected on his own transformation from a ready-to-wear designer in Italy, at the height of a huge explosion of design and creativity in the '70s and '80s. Before coming to Dior in the '90s and discovering the even more rarefied world of couture.
“You know, I think the time has come to remember that people need to start reading a lot more; and think and reflect. It's really is not just enough to stick an emoji on social media anymore,” concluded Grazia.
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