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Monday, November 28, 2022

Dior AW20/21 Haute Couture: “Le Mythe Dior”

Film transports audiences to mythological and WWII settings

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FRANCE. Paris. On July 6, the first day of the Haute Couture Week, Maria Grazia Chiuri presented Dior AW20/21 haute couture collection with a short film directed by the Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone. The film showed a trunk carried around in a bucolic landscape, inhabited by mythological creatures. The trunk, depicting the façade of the historical building of the Maison Dior, contained miniature dresses.

These doll-dresses, showcasing Dior AW20/21 haute couture collection, evoked the Théâtre de la Mode. At the end of WW2, French couturiers and artists created dolls with miniature dresses, which toured Europe and the USA. This touring exhibition, called Théâtre de la Mode, had the intention of sending a message of hope. As Maria Grazia Chiuri put it, the Théâtre de la Mode intended to show that “haute couture was alive” in spite of the “difficult times”. The same is true for the Maison Dior now.

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The dresses of Dior AW20/21 haute couture collection. Maria Grazia Chiuri found inspiration in a dreamy world for her Dior AW20/21 haute couture collection. Thus, she combined mythological refences with surrealist ones. As a result, the collection explores classic drapery in a very enthralling way. For example, peplos and togas, a perfect fit for the mythological mood, come in pleated light fabrics with amazing details. They have incorported braiding and beads as embellishments.

Dior AW20/21 haute couture collection also included ball-gowns with feathers, sequins, and fringes.  As an homage to surrealist artists, it featured a tulle dress with quotes by the poet Marcel Mariën and a gown with a tarot motif by Leonora Carrington, in golden thread. Talking of evening dresses, a special mention goes to the dress for the tree-woman. Evoking natural textures, the dress combined an intricate golden bodice and a pleated skirt with inserts in different fabrics.

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In addition, the distinctive Dior ‘Bar’ suit is recurrent, both in a draped alabaster crêpe fabric and in thicker winter fabrics. A series of iconic coats with short and long kimono sleeves complete the collection. The colour palette for the whole Dior AW20/21 haute couture includes a variety of shades of grey, white and black.

With “Le Mythe Dior“, Matteo Garrone celebrated the French savoir faire (craftmanship) and sartorial tailoring. He did so through the images of Dior’s atelier and with details like the taking of body-measurements for the shell woman. The Dior AW20/21 haute couture collection manages to live up to that reputation.

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Exploration of different interpretations of femininity. With Dior AW20/21 haute couture, Maria Grazia Chiuri meant to explore different and opposed interpretations of femininity. The inspiration included the “repressed expression” denounced by Marcel Mariën, who portrayed a woman “dressed in thoughts she is borrowing” in his “Le Tableau Blanc”. It included, at the opposite side of the scale, the “flamboyant spirit of artist Dorothea Tanning”. 

Likewise, the film, “Le Mythe Dior,” explores different interpretations of femininity through the lens of mythology. Thus, the film features a mermaid, nymphs, a shell woman, a tree woman and her partner, and above all, as an example of opposite interpretations, the statue of Venus and a couple made of a Nymph and a Satyr.  The statue of Venus chooses an algid white pleated peplos. The Nymph, after an approving nod by her companion, chooses the sensual and flamboyant Dorothea Tanning-inspired black dress. She is later seen wearing it while being chased by her partner in the woods, with a clear hint to sensual love and complicity.

The universal power of fashion, a fantastic tale. In the narrative of the Dior AW20/21 film, fashion, embodied in the trunk and its carriers, did not stop for anything. It brought a statue to life and it did not hesitate to disturb the loving couple in the tree. As Matteo Garrone pointed out, the mythological characters show a feeling of “stupore” (wonder) when they see the dresses. It is this universal feeling that unites them.

This feeling of wonder is the essential trait of a fantastic tale. It is the sort of curiosity Schopenhauer thought a human being feels when meeting with something totally new. It is the feeling that, according to poet Coleridge, leads to “suspended judgment,” that is to say, the acceptance of something otherwise unbelievable. The pictorial light in Matteo Garrone’s film, the music by Paolo Buonivino, and the beauty of Dior AW20/21 haute couture collection worked magically to entrance audiences. Some want to feel hopeful and believe in fairy tales, at least for a while.

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