Maria Grazia Chiuri’s SS18 haute couture collection as artistic director of Dior Couture appears to float somewhere between dream and reality, imagination and realization. The designer brings a fresh breath of imagination to the collection, conjuring an otherworldliness and use of trompe l’oeil and optical illusion with fabric, form and flow.
Maria Grazia Chiuri was inspired by Surrealism in her predominantly black and white collection sprinkled with illusion and the occasional elements of surprise.
In that vein, generous pleats on a white evening dress are etched in black like the pages of a book, while caging, is a recurring motif, is transformed into a black mesh fabric that hugs the body and underscores transparency as silvery fishnet mingles with the density of velvet.
Above all, it’s the charisma of the artist Leonor Fini that defines this collection’s strict yet radical attitude. Leonor Fini, who left Italy for Paris in the ’30’s, held her first exhibition in Christian Dior’s gallery and befriended the designer from that moment onward. Whenever she made one of her phantasmagorical appearances, she often wore Dior.
Leonor Fini was the incarnation of the then-revolutionary idea that one must always remain independent and reinvent oneself as a representation of all possible realities.
She used clothing to define herself and set her own stage, in public as in private: at once influential, severe and elegant, she struck poses inspired by portraits of men from the Renaissance, by the constant interaction of art and life, and the blend of the natural and artificial. These marvels of haute couture came into being in a dimension suspended between dream and reality.
The same applies to the daywear for which Christian Dior had such a knack, and notably to shapes reinterpreted using traditional men’s wear fabrics. Maria Grazia Chiuri draws on these as inspiration in a series of suits that recalibrates Dior’s curves to today’s tastes, paired with skirts of multiple contrasts.
Ever faithful to the Surrealist tradition of deconstructed forms, accessories make their presence felt in a whimsical way: a fishnet stocking veils a sandal, while gloves clutch an ankle. It’s this way of seeing and being seen, with a point of view that draws on the unconscious and today’s world, that Maria Grazia Chiuri uses as a foil for embroideries and other embellishments.
On a dress illuminated by a mirage of peacock feathers, precious and delicate ornaments become eyes that behold and express mystery — as well as the spiritual power of today’s women.
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