Tuesday 2nd July

| BY Claudia Croft

Dior: Couture AW19

It was 30 Avenue Montaigne but not as we know it. The famous Dior staircase was transformed into a dark forest, thick with grey roots and trunks twisting up to the historic ateliers above. The installation was a collaboration with feminist artist Penny Slinger, who transformed the interior of the historic Maison with black and white scenography. Her Grecian goddess statues leaned against bleached temple columns and nestled in flower bowers. This was to be an exploration of architecture, couture and the female body.

The show opened with a slogan. “Are clothes modern?” printed on across the front of an artfully draped t-shirt dress. Chiuri loves a slogan and this one comes from an essay by Bernard Rudofsky, who mounted the first (and legendary) fashion exhibition at MoMA way back in 1944. It’s not the conventions of cut that make clothing relevant but the body inside he argued. Inspired by this, the designer experimented with drape creating sublimely simple contortions on long lean gowns. The architecture of fashion was also on her mind. The collection was mostly black – all the better to see the definitive lines of the clothes and the complex textures of the soaring decorative elements. Chiuri explored new silhouettes with caped bar jackets and ankle-length skirts. The models, their heads covered in tulle widow’s veils, strode purposefully through the space in flat sandals. The finale featured a gold leaf sculpture dress shaped like the exterior of the historic building. It sounded a lone note of eccentricity in a collection that majored on sublime dressing. These were self-assured clothes – exquisitely crafted, feminine and strong. Very Chiuri. Very Dior.

Photographs by Jason Lloyd-Evans