A Look Back At Dior’s Surrealist Inspired Couture Show Space
“Only the inevitable theatricality of my life interests me,” read the opening line of Dior’s Haute Couture show notes for their Sping/Summer 2018 collection. They are the words of Leonor Fini, the luminary force of bohemian 1930’s Paris, whose wit, enigma and subversive style not only ignited the Surrealist arts movement, but is intimately tied with the history of the Maison and its founder Christian Dior, a close friend of Fini who staged her debut solo exhibition at Dior’s Gallery. Though she never attributed her style to popular artistic movements, her work was exhibited in the seminal 1936 MoMA exhibition Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism, and drew heavily upon the erotic tension between the (usually dominant) female and male. Above all, Fini was a visionary who, much like Maria Grazia’s couture collections, chose not to distinguish between art and life, fantasy and reality, refusing along the way to be pressured into conformity by a world dominated by men, choosing instead to forge her own style and appearance.
It is this very sentiment that the collection and show space incarnated – the fantasy and freedom that both couture and Surrealism share as a common denominator. The face masks that playfully framed the gaze of models were designed and produced by British milliner Stephen Jones- his homage to Peggy Guggenheim and her 1943 show, Exhibition of 31 Women Artists, of which Fini was a part. Accessories were whimsical and played with the Surrealist tradition of deconstructed forms; a fish-net stocking draped over a sandal or a glove that grips an ankle. The runway itself provided a chessboard-like stage for the drama that would unfold. Having taken around three weeks to construct, with a team of over 300 people involved in its creation, the set was made up of over 1200m2 of mirrors and 2700m2 of pristine drapes- an optical illusion in black and white. Supplemented by the casts of body parts and giant bird-cages suspended from the ceiling, the space mirrored the dream-like fantasy of haute couture and Leonor Fini’s legacy. Watch the below video for a tour of the magical venue.
Music by Michel Gaubert