Fashionable feminism at Christian Dior Couture
The show tent for the Christian Dior couture show on Monday was a giant sculpture of a woman’s torso lying in the garden of the Rodin Museum, announcing the theme of yet another bold and dramatic show by the houseʼs couturier Maria Grazia Chiuri.
The giant setting, named "The Female Divine," was created by American artist Judy Chicago, who also made the backdrop, which read "What If Women Ruled the World?" Which, if it happened in the universe of Dior, would mean we would be governed by divinities.
Half the cast were dressed as goddesses and the inspiration was the work of probably the single most famous feminist artist in the world. Couture consists of the most rarefied and expensive clothes in fashion, created for a wealthy elite, but the Dior collection unveiled today was all about female empowerment, albeit at its most divine.
Chiuriʼs key idea was peplum, "a dress that hangs on your body and takes care of you." Peplum has a long history in sophisticated Paris fashion, though few have worked the concept with such refinement as Chiuri.
She draped with enormous gusto, cutting the purest of lines, knotting shoulder straps and finishing midriffs with intricate braiding. Made in the noblest of materials – rose gold crepe, ivory silk chiffon, golden houndstooth jacquard, antique gold tulle and, bien sûr, Dior gray chiffon. Each of the cast of 77 accessorized with gold metallic leafy armbands, floral necklaces, snake bracelets or winged sandals. Botticelli beauties all of them.
"My idea from the beginning was the divine female. In my view, goddesses are everywhere, in statues and in art. Especially here in Paris, where in the Louvre you have the Victory of Samothrace" explained Chiuri, who took a long walk down the tent’s body, posing at its midriff before a gang of front-row Vogue editors-in-chief.
While for day, Chiuri whipped up sporty toga versions, and a striking series of pants suits, in antique gold diagonal jacquards, finished with sleek shawl collars.
Testifying to the power of Dior, the show's more than 800 guests included a regiment of actresses and beauties, including Kristin Scott Thomas, Uma Thurman, Haley Bennett, Natalia Vodianova, Alexa Chung, Jeanne Damas, Amira Casar, Monica Bellucci and Sigourney Weaver.
The Italian couturier ranged about the Mediterranean, with hints of Athenian queens, Carthaginian nobility and wealthy Roman aristocrats, as if they had slipped out of a fresco in Pompeii.
Climaxing with model Lineisy Montero, the Dominican beauty, emoting in a maroon chiffon goddess column topped by a feather cape worthy of Cleopatra, as the famed Dior couture atelier went into overdrive. Eat your heart out Elizabeth Taylor.
Above the audience, a series of hangings posed further questions. "What if God were female? Could men and women ever be equal?"
Yet Chiuri, fashion’s most committed feminist, while hailing the great steps achieved by the womenʼs movement in her lifetime, was nonetheless brutally frank about the lack of progress.
"We have never had a female president in Italy, nor in France. If you look at all the great Italian newspapers none of them has ever had a woman editor-in-chief. Same thing in England. And when you think about cooking. If a woman does the cooking, it's domestic. If a man cooks its an expression creativity! And I have never met a woman director of a great hospital. Honestly, I don’t think that much has really changed," sniffed Maria Grazia.
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