Tuesday 6th July

| BY Claudia Croft

Dior: Couture AW21

Photography Christina Fragkou

After two fairy tale fashion films, Maria Grazia Chiuri was intent on celebrating the return of Dior Couture to the physical realm, with a show that majored on tactile fabrics and handmade detailing. It was an homage to the craft of couture and to underline the point, Chiuri’s models walked against a magnificent embroidered cyclorama artwork called Chambre de Soie.

The sweeping landscape scene was drawn by French artist Éva Jospin and then made in thread by the Chanakya embroidery school in India, which is supported by Chiuri and Christian Dior and provides training and jobs for young women. Chiuri made the case for couture daywear with curvaceous bar jackets, belted dressing-gown coats or patchwork macs that billowed at the back. The inspiration was a 1963 Dior couture collection by Marc Bohan which featured head-to-toe tweed looks, including riding hats, which Chiuri reimagined. The Bermudas and sailor suits channeled that sixties flavour and some of the pieces were positively sporty, whilst sturdy walking shoes and tweedy boots took the place of tottering heels.

©Prarthna Singh / Chanakya / Chanakya School of Craft 

What made it unmistakably haute was the sweeping generosity of fabric (something which caused outrage when Dior’s New look was unveiled in 1947) and the finesse of the cut. This show gloried in hand-made craftsmanship, expressed in the tweedy volumes of full skirts, the jut of a peplum frill, or the gossamer chiffon gowns that the designer has made her signature. Those looked more delicate than ever, lavished with honeycomb pleats and intricate plaits and gathers. The designer spoke of reclaiming the values of Haute Couture, an art form which she believes defines the longings of a world in the midst of a profound transformation.