Step into the Whimsical World of Dior Autumn/Winter 2020-2021 Haute Couture

Mermaids, nymphs and man-goats in a short film produced by Matteo Garrone.

While the global pandemic was completely wrecking our lives over the past few months, many have found themselves going a little bit stir crazy. Some, if not most, have been turning to nature in an effort to find a form of escape and a connector to the real world. Last week, Giambattista Valli celebrated flowers, jardins sauvages and other forms of horticulture in her Resort 2021 collection; now, Maria Grazia Chiuri is taking us on a tour into a spellbinding dream that is Dior haute couture.

Chiuri gave her Autumn-Winter 2020-2021 collection an unexpected twist that came in the form of miniature garments. These doll-sized Dior Couture dresses opened the House’s first-ever socially distanced fashion presentation, shown hand-sewn by masked seamstresses and subsequently taken on a traveling display tour into the chimerical world of Le Mythe Dior. The concept borrows from the work of artists such as Lee Miller, Dora Maar and Jacqueline Lamba who chose to go beyond the stereotypical boundaries imposes by their beauty and championed a different kind of femininity in their surrealist world and beyond.

“Surrealist images manage to make visible what is in itself invisible,” Chiuri said of the collection. “I’m interested in mystery and magic, which are also a way of exorcising uncertainty about the future.”

The collection was presented in the form of a short film produced by Italian director Matteo Garrone, for whom this film was a bit of a departure from the mafia thrillers and fantasy films he has worked on before. It was his first-ever fashion project, and Chiuri has encouraged the whole team to think outside the box and reinvent their ways of working under constrictions brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Attuned to nature and transformation, the haute couture range never ceased referencing nature in all its forms and iterations — gradations of red alluding to coral reef swaying in the glimmer of the ocean, pleated chiffon intarsia skirts flaunting a tree-bark motive. A sculptural black ruffled cape, a vaporous ballgown covered in pale gray feathers and the metallic yellow draped Grecian column dress with bondage-style ropes were all hard to miss, with the latter being so magnetic that the marble statue itself was compelled to come to life.  

The Dior Ateliers were also a major player in that mythical world tour. Through all parts of the collection — from haute couture ‘day looks’ to pleated layers on coats to elaborate draping of fabrics and materials — the luminescence sublimated gray and golden yellow tones, creating that dazzling brilliance of Haute Couture. And the allegorical trunk continued to make its way round and round that mythological world, embodying the townhouse that houses Dior’s Paris headquarters on 30 Avenue Montaigne and evoking Monsieur Dior’s own odyssey. 

While a lot of fashion brands — big or small — begin to crumble under the pressure of the socially distanced world from today, this show reminds one of couture’s resilience and aptitude to spruce up our lives no matter what. That being said, it felt like we were missing a piece of something awfully important (though we sure did appreciate the man-goats in this myth-driven film.) But was it the casting that lacked diversity? The not-so-convincing mythology tale? Or is it the lack of the whole social aspect of the show that is usually there to create a magical, almost superhuman atmosphere? Only time will tell; and for now, we’re left with this beautiful story of Dior’s extraordinary haute couture silhouettes, all reinterpreted through a fashion doll prism, to reflect on.  


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