Wednesday 26th February

| BY Claudia Croft

Dior: Ready-to-wear AW20

Maria Grazia Chiuri is becoming as well-known for her curation of female artists as she is for her feminist take on Dior’s heritage. After a couture show set against a backdrop of banners created by Judy Chicago, she followed up for AW20 with bold neon signage flashing feminist slogans. The whole environment was a collaboration with the Claire Fontaine art collective.

“WOMEN’S LOVE IS UNPAID LABOUR”, “PATRIARCHY = CO2 “, “CONSENT”, (particularly pertinent the day after the Weinstein verdict), flashed above the audience’s heads. The words came from the writing of Carla Lonzi, an Italian feminist activist prominent in the late 1960s and early 1970s, whose work made an impression on the young Chiuri.

With the second wave feminist mood set, the designer sent out her most personal Dior collection yet. It was inspired by the designer’s memories of her mother, a couture dressmaker, who ran her own Roman atelier. Chiuri grew up there amongst the fabrics and rhythms of a couture business and it was to these formative years and her stylish mother’s late 1960s wardrobe of jumpsuits, flared jeans, peasant dresses, headscarves and square-heeled boots that she turned for inspiration.

The first look out was a homespun reimagining of the House’s famous Bar jacket, as a knitted trouser suit. Denim played a key part in the collection with chewing-gum white flares and boxy jacket worn (as Chiuri’s stylish mother would have styled it) with a knit shirt and matching tie plus a luscious silk bandanna, courtesy of Stephen Jones. Plaid, inspired by Marc Bohan’s tenure at Dior, featured on tailoring that was 1970s-inflected, with high-waisted slacks and roomy three button blazers. Ponchos and blanket coats added to the retro vibe but the show had plenty of now factor. Quilted camouflage coats brought a modern layer to the look.

The luscious fringing which Chiuri showed first at couture, (which then became a major trend in a Milan) brought a wistful, bohemian swish to dancing dresses.

A 1970s Italian pop song from Chiuri’s youth played, her 84 models strode out for the finale. It was a fitting close to a collection which revelled in a heartfelt nostalgia.

Photographs by Jason Lloyd-Evans.