Despite the pandemic scaling down the grandeur of fashion shows, Dior dazzles in this cinematic compromise of couture.
Even in crisis mode, trust that one of the things that people will hold on to is fantasy. As elusive as it will prove to be, it has long been ingrained in the human condition to cling to a glimmer of make believe to inch one through the most harrowing of times. Whether it be the most glorious of literature borne out of a cerebral escape or the fanciest of fashion, a behest of the creative void, there is a possibility of promise that persists through. During World War II for example, a touring expo was mounted by artisans and couture designers of the time to peddle the fact that despite the ravaging conflict, fashion did not succumb as a collateral damage. One of the names that not only participated in this undertaking of ironic proportions, but also emerged from the war a significant name in the history of design, was that of Dior.
“In France there was the Théâtre de la Mode, which was a collaboration between artists and fashion designers. During this very moment in time, they joined forces to create some dolls, for whom the couturiers created wonderful clothes, and the artist designed the décor of where these little dolls lived. These dolls were then shipped across the world and the idea was to promote that French haute couture was very much alive,” explains Dior Creative Director, the inimitable Maria Grazia Chiuri of the history referenced in the genesis of the house’s collection mounted as the swells of the pandemic were (and considerably still is) at a peak, punishing down on anything and everything that stood in its way with an inconceivably aggressive wrath. “We started working on this collection during the lockdown. Therefore we knew we couldn’t do a real show, so it was very clear from the tart that my reference needed to be tied to the dream or fantasy world.”
Fashion, a slice of the world deemed non-essential in a crisis of epic proportions, was far from safe. Apart from completely halting productions, stalling what is presumably an iron-wrought communications plan, and denying any remote possibility of a show-like gathering, the looming wonder on everyone’s head quickly shifted from confusion to resolution. How does one brand, with many lives relying on it internally as a pulsating lifeline, move forward in this reality unraveling at a frightful pace? “At the start, I was a little bit scared of proposing something so unusual like making a film on inanimate objects such as the journey of a trunk,” says Maria Grazia Chiuri. And so, with the truth made word, her fantasy was made reality in a stunning sliver of the silver screen, aptly titled, Le Mythe Dior, masterfully helmed by Italian filmmaker, Matteo Garone, and scored to riveting recourse by conductor Paolo Buonvino.
As they usually do with their larger-than-life presentations, Dior posits a alteration in the narrative, this time taking their world of make believe straight to us, just as it did in the war. In the incandescent essaying of illusory imaging, we are transported right smack in the middle of an enchanted forest, one that beckons in fragments of dense woodlands, divisions of bamboos and beams of light shooting to the sky, and a rush of river coursing through in sparkling. Navigating their way through this fictional flora, two bellhops tread carefully, carrying a curiously sized trunk through the locked gazes of nymphs, a satyr, and a mermaid.
In perfectly timed increments, the traveling case was unlocked, revealing an assemblage of dolled up miniatures swathed in what can only be best described as an almost obsessive attention to detail. “The idea at the base of it all was to try and create a real collection, but as a scale model. So, we created mannequins that were 40cm tall,” explains the Grazia Chiuri. “Everything from the skirts, jackets, and linings were all like real haute couture garments.” Dust that with the magic of Dior, one that embodies the veritable alchemy of dreams, mythology, and the silver screen, as well as of the skilled hands of the maison’s petite mains, then the result is an extremely languid and lavish exposition that is lacerated with exhales of wonder.
As mesmerizing as the Dior short film was, which for a track of time took us from the anxiety of our days to an expansive work of fiction that ignited that work of whimsy in our consciousness, the real stars of the show were the garments, all executed to precise and passionate perfection. “The spellbinding collection highlights the noble character of the artisanal poetry that sculpted, shaped, embroidered and sublimated these exceptional creations,” details the statement from Dior. “In creating these 37 captivating silhouettes, Maria Grazia Chiuri wished to celebrate the work and the journeys of five indomitable, magnificently inspiring figures of the Surrealist movement: Lee Miller, Dora Maar, Dorothea Tanning, Leonora Carrington and Jacqueline Lamba. Each one a visionary, these audacious personalities transcended their role as muse by affirming their vocations as artists of dazzling talent.” The result was an incandescent dialogue of the requisite savoir-faire and a jubilant joie de vivre that all but made it fact that traditions are alive and that all will be well as it best could muster in the time being.
“It’s a different experience. But I think it’s a beautiful experience,” says Maria Grazia Chiuri of the emotive gesture that has inevitably made sense of dissonant chords struck by the crisis at hand. “I’m interested in mystery and magic, which are also a way of exorcising uncertainty about the future.” Symbolic as it may stand to be, it has in effect steeled and strengthened the resolve of the house to carry on the great tradition set by Monsieur Dior himself, which is to perpetuate and reinvent fashion to what it essentially is—an extension and expression of the soul bound by freedom and renewal. And nothing can be more magical than that.