Christian Dior: Tarot card couture
Christian Dior went on a fresh couture voyage this week, a virtual trip to an imaginary chateau, all the better to unveil Maria Grazia Chiuri’s latest vision for the house inspired this season by tarot cards.
An ideal meeting of France and Italy, referencing the earliest known set of tarot cards, commissioned by a Visconti duke of Milan in the 15th century, and Monsieur Dior’s famously superstitious love of reading his future through tarot.
The result was a modernist take on medieval mode in an allegorical film directed by Matteo Garrone that debuted Monday, the opening day of the four-day haute couture season in Paris.
There were no knights in shining armour or damsels in distress; instead a group of independent and romantic female spirits in search of their inner selves. An opening image – a drawing of a rustic castle, worthy of Game of Thrones, inside of which a tarot reader turns over the first card for a perturbed beauty. It’s the High Priestess, who later appears in a jacquard bustier gown in all her glory.
After which unfolds this rather beautiful film, from Garrone, the Cannes Festival winner, who also shot last summer’s couture video for Dior.
This time, beauties test the scales of justice inside the chateau’s throne room, tempting fate before letting a harpy guide them through a door to their future.
“Why the medieval silhouette? Maybe because we live in a period of uncertainty and for that reason we refer back to that era. It’s harder today to be optimistic about the future. No?” wondered Maria Grazia in a pre-show preview Zoom with editors.
Tarot card characters in each chamber of the castle: from a horned she-devil with wings in a plunging tulle dress; to Justice in green mousseline holding her unforgiving scales. A metallic-masked nymph then undresses our heroine, the better for them both to have a steaming bath. At which she embraces… what turns out to be herself. On the left attired in a Venetian blond wing, on the right in dark pageboy crop.
“When we were designing this collection it wasn’t clear from the start where we could ever show it. On a catwalk, probably not. But I knew I wanted to work with Matteo Garrone on a film, even if we were able to do a show. You see, I wanted a cinematic sense and to also have a show, conjugating the two together. Matteo is someone who can best express the world of couture – who understands the aesthetic references. You have to work with people with whom you have a deep feeling otherwise it becomes very complicated. So it was great to exchange ideas, and to spend time together, even if not physically, as I am in Paris and Pietro (Beccari, Dior chairman and CEO) in Rome,” smiled Chiuri.
Among the tarot characters: Temperance in a velour devoré robe overprinted with a thousand flowers; Death in a plissé gown embroidered in crystals; or The Moon in rose chenille lamé ceremonial dress with a Watteau back. All the way to Gold, in a stunning guipure dress incrusted with giant golden coins made of guipure inlay, in an exceptional final display from Dior’s unparalleled atelier.
While making the collection, the designer confessed to even enjoying a few tarot readings herself.
“It’s like doing analysis and gives you, in a certain way, your own response to your introspective voyage,” she concluded.
Cannot help but think that Monsieur Dior would have agreed.
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