Christian Dior: feminist yet funky

Hyper feminist, though at times not terribly feminine, the latest collection for Christian Dior by Maria Grazia Chiuri took the house somewhere very new in a year which celebrates the legendary label’s 70th anniversary.


Dior SS18 - PixelFormula

On each seat, a copy of the famous essay Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? by Linda Nochlin. On the catwalk, risqué clothes that harked back to the late 60s when that feminist tract was first written; and when revolutionary fervor and the desire to re-write the rules of behavior – especially for women – dominated so much thought.
 
Nonetheless, there were highly commercial clothes and sure to be highly influential – just as Chiuri’s previous RTW shows have been since becoming the house’s women’s creative director. Indeed, it has been impossible to attend a show in New York, London, Milan and now Paris without spotting someone in the front row wearing Chiuri’s J’Adior strap shoes. And the faded worker blue last season - radical departure from the Dior signature color of pale gray – has become almost ubiquitous in fashion.
 
Her catwalk, backdrop and show space walls were covered with large panes of shattered glass. Her finale was a half dozen shattered glass dresses, finished with crystal straps in the house’s name. It symbolized how Chiuri is determined to break the codes of Dior even as she celebrates them. Chiuri’s reign at Dior still feels very much like a work in progress: signified by the custom-made entrance into Dior’s show tent, built in the garden of the Rodin Museum. It was a lumpy concrete wall, from which bristled rusty iron rods. On the surface in half-meter high letters, a quote from Niki de Saint Phalle.


Dior SS18 - PixelFormula
 
It read: “If life is a game of cards. We are born without knowing the rules. Yet we must play our hands. Throughout the ages people have liked playing with tarot cards. Poets philosophers alchemists artists have devoted themselves to discovering their meaning.”
 
The same artist – and friend of long-time Dior designer Marc Bohan – whose quirky personal style and “more adolescent than androgynous, small and fiery… beauty,” in Chiuri’s words, were at the heart of this thought-provoking show.
 
Chiuri opened with her much-loved faded blue. Her first passage: denim blue loon-pants worn under a Breton sweater on which was written: Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? And Bohan’s influence was apparent in the jumpsuits; little mini dresses and Yeh Yeh Girl checkered flag used in parkas; cocktails, pants and bag straps. Evident too in the Evel Knievel leather biker looks and polka dot looks. Though with a large dose of de Saint Phalle friskiness; since a good third of the outfits featured crazy Nanas, cartoon embroideries of green dinosaurs; trees of love; tarot images, checkered snakes and supernatural women.
 
Magical, moody, mischievous and faintly crazy, this is a new Dior, but one many women clearly like very much.
 

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