Flamenco fantasy meets French chic in Dior’s cruise in Seville
A moment of flamenco fantasy at Christian Dior, with a spectacular cruise collection featuring 60 dancers, live orchestra and over 100 models, presented outdoors in Seville’s grandiose Plaza de España on a balmy Thursday night.
Equestrian chic; Andalusian attitude and multiple references to La Madonna in an epic show staged at nightfall on the opening day of Corpus Christi. A morning that began with a huge religious procession through the city, with a giant Madonna carried on a golden throne by a score of stocky youths. And finished with some thundering dancing by the troupe of choreographer Blanca Li.
The same dancers that serenaded Dior’s creative director for women Maria Grazia Chiuri as she took an extended bow to prolonged applause.
Local Spanish beauties giving the collection a standing ovation, as did Elle Macpherson, Laetita Casta and Charithra Chandran, the actress of hit show Bridgerton.
In a brilliant display, Chiuri managed to marry both sacred and fashion icons, in a collection that opened with a shaven headed ska-style model with men’s pants and braces, wrapped in a mantilla shawl. Before segueing into a series of great riding jackets – adorned with Brandenburg closures and cut like cropped boleros in the Andalusian style – all worn with cropped flamenco pants.
Practically every look riffed on local imagery. The baroque architectural shapes seen in perforated leather skirts and jackets; or the filigree of lace blouses.
At the same time, everything reeked of expensive Dior; from the mini saddle bags attached to horse harness belts, to Stephen Jones horsewoman’s hats, which in the south of Spain are cut like classical flat boater straw hats. Cut out riding boots; taught jodhpurs; crops; and sexy lace shirts all added a hot Latin quotient of tough chic.
Maria Grazia’s key icon was apparent from her mood-board. Carmen Amaya, a legendary dancer, a famed female flamenco dancer, known as La Capitana.
“Clearly my first emblem is Carmen Amaya, the first female flamenco star to dress like a man. She also used male moves and gestures in flamenco that had never been tried before by a woman. And that comes out with Blanca Li and her 60 ballerinas,” explained Chiuri.
In some bold staging two groups of Li’s 30 dancers, marched over parallel Baroque Revival bridges, performing in sinful red, as two lead performers beat out a dramatic military-like tattoo with their rapid fire stomps.
“That was the toughest fitting of my life. Fifty women who could not be still! Pure energy, impossible to measure and that made them a key part of the show. Plus, they don’t just dance, since their actions create music with the pounding of their feet. They become musical instruments themselves,” enthused Chiuri.
A multi-hued and racial cast marching around the giant plaza with smoky, coal eyes and faintly glistening makeup, the better to add to the sense of after midnight mischief.
Chiuri’s other icons were apparent in a mood board that included the famed 18th Duchess of Alba, a style setter and the single most titled women on the planet and Jackie Kennedy, a skilled horsewoman who once participated in a parade through Seville.
For evening, Chiuri played on Spanish embroidery and lace, though again riffing on local culture by referencing the very clothes worn on statues of La Madonna, in a city which has literally scores of them in churches, basilicas and chapels. Using dense guipure lace or golden embroidery from Dior’s top-notch atelier in grand gowns and red carpet gold jackets.
All backed up by a sensational live 30-piece orchestra directed by Alberto Iglesias, playing the soundtracks of multiple films he scored for Pedro Almodóvar. A huge show – and perhaps a dozen looks too many – but that only added to the sense of procession which Spaniards love. Finishing with a quartet of saucy contessas in racy off-the-shoulder gowns made in mock flamenco poster prints.
Many people speak of inclusivity, but Maria Grazia’s vision of the circularity of ideas is that bit more sophisticated.
Take a key element in the collection, the mantilla shawl. An accessory actually born in the Philippines. Exported by the Spanish into Mexico, it later came back to Spain to become in the popular mind the classic image of Spanish fashion.
Even the name of Seville is instructive. An ancient Roman city named Hispalis; renamed after the Islamic Conquest in 711 as Ishbiliyah, before being incorporated by the Crown of Castile in 1248 as Seville. Going on to become the gateway to the Spanish Empire in Latin America, and one of the world’s richest cities in the 17th century, resulting in this brilliant flowering of culture and architecture.
Nowhere is that melding of cultures that so intrigued Chiuri better expressed than in the Alcázar Gardens, built by Christians on a former Muslim residential site, a stunningly beautiful blend of Gothic, Romanesque, Renaissance and Islamic Iberian aesthetics. Where Dior and Chiuri feted the night before the show, with classical musicians hidden in alcoves playing medieval music. Inclusive cool at its best.
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