Making her debut at Christian Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri, formerly of Valentino showed a collection examining what it means to be feminine in today’s era. The designer noted, “The message, really, is that there is not one kind of woman.” The resulting collection was unexpected, both from Dior‘s signatures as well as Chiuri’s time at Valentino. This was clearly a departure from the goddess silhouettes of the African-Italian fusion of last year’s Spring/Summer Valentino collection or the romance of Raf Simons’ last runway show at Dior on the Victorian South of France before his abrupt departure.
The opening look almost knocked me off my seat to be sure. I wasn’t expecting a stark white quilted fencing jacket from Chiuri. I was expecting an ethereal gown to waft down the runway. But, the designer explained that fencing “involves mind and heart at the same time, which women always need if they are to realize themselves.” What followed was a series of evolutions of the fencing motif in a moto jacket, a light as air maxi, a faux overall separate tank and knickerbockers.
Then came a fantastic balance between sporty and delicate – the fencing moto paired with sheer skirts, drop waist relaxed trousers with very clearly Chiuri sheer peasant tops, and almost all flat sneakers, boots, sandals, and slingbacks.
The runway show then settled into a pace of tempered practicality with touches of edge meeting clear nods to signature Dior notions of French femininity. More wearable, more relatable, more capable of attracting a younger audience…especially the focus of separates and those fantastic “We should all be feminists.” tees, which among other pieces will be treasure hunted by buyers with a budget. Very smart, house of Dior. The adaptations made in this collection are definitely freshening the Dior label in a good way.
The final evening looks were, of course, more delicate pieces, chock full of symbolism that read inclusive spiritualism, naturalism, and of course, pure artistry.