The Dior fall/winter 2017-18 haute couture show took place in the shadow of the ornately gilded soaring dome of the Hôtel National des Invalides in Paris. The outfits designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri were presented in a star-shaped amphitheater, which retraces the Earth and the celestial sphere with poetic grace, specially conceived by the artist Pietro Ruffo.
“I have purchased a map of Paris printed on a pocket handkerchief” —Karl Gutzkow
On one hand, there’s the 1953 Albert Decaris etching that turned up in the Dior archives, a map of the five continents that retraces the House’s expansion around the world. On the other, there’s the couturier’s assertion in his autobiography, Dior by Dior: “A complete collection should address all types of women in all countries.” Both of these inspirations guided Maria Grazia Chiuri, the Artistic Director of women’s collections, in creating the fall/winter 2017-2018 Haute Couture collection that celebrates the House’s 70th anniversary.
For Maria Grazia Chiuri, the atlas symbolizes a desire for faraway lands, the need to travel to discover the world and oneself, to feel emotion, grow and evolve. It evokes her own journey from Rome to Paris and her exploration of the Dior heritage. As restless as the first female explorers who overcame geographical and psychological frontiers, she is drawn to the heroine’s flair for borrowing elements from the masculine wardrobe and mixing them with ethnic pieces. Thanks to the designer’s sensitivity and new technologies, menswear fabrics are transformed into shimmering surfaces and chiaroscuro on jackets, coats, blouses and jumpsuits that recall aviator jackets and open into pleated culotte skirts. Meanwhile, the masculine fedora by Stephen Jones, the milliner who this year celebrates his 20th anniversary as Dior’s hat designer, nods to explorers such as Freya Stark.The path taken in this homecoming becomes, for Maria Grazia Chiuri, a topography of emotions: colors, flowers and embroidered tarot cards themselves become atlases on capes and evening gowns in silk and tulle, in gray powdered with pink or nocturnal shades of velvet. This fairyland, an imaginary cartography that invents and challenges one’s point of view, recalls the monumental maps and globes of grand interiors: they relay the power of feminine literary roamings, sprinkled with explorations of culture and style.