“Only the inevitable theatricality of my life interests me.” — Leonor Fini
The history of haute couture is intimately linked with the history of modern art. The couturier is an artist unto himself and the word “atelier” designates equally the studio of an artist or that of a designer. But any artist’s true “studio” is his or her spirit. It’s in this dimension, located somewhere between dream and reality, or imagination and realization, that Maria Grazia Chiuri, the Artistic Director of the House’s women’s collections, pursues her research and explorations. Because haute couture is a dream of fashion. It’s a place where there are no limits to pushing boundaries and experimenting with technique, material and form. Immersing herself in the heart of the Surrealist movement made it possible to bring a fresh breath of imagination to the spring-summer 2018 haute couture collection, conjuring an otherworldliness and constant optical illusion.
Held in the garden of the Musée Rodin, the décor of Dior’s haute couture spring-summer 2018 reflected the Surrealist inspirations of the collection designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri. Surrealism guided Maria Grazia Chiuri in creating a collection predominantly in black and white sprinkled with illusion and surprise.
Generous pleats on a white evening dress are etched in black like the pages of a book, while caging, a recurring motif in Surrealist works, is transformed into a black mesh fabric that hugs the body and underscores transparency as silvery fishnet mingles with the density of velvet.
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.