Wednesday 30th September

| BY Claudia Croft

Dior: Ready-to-Wear SS21

Comfort ease and pragmatism – the principles guiding Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Dior are informed by the new normal. Lockdown changed our relationship to fashion. How things make you feel is just as important as how they look, reasons Chiuri. With that in mind, the designer took the stuffing out of Dior’s traditional jackets. Soft, enveloping, reassuring: they looked like belted kimonos, dressing gowns or cardigans and were based on an archive design created for a 1957 show in Japan. Worn with a mannish shirt and loose trousers, the new Dior suit took a fresh bohemian shape.

Chiuri name-checked Virginia Wolf and Susan Sontag as an influence, and you could see it in the earthy mix of texture and print. If the daywear erred on a kind of enveloping, but sumptuous practicality, the eveningwear took a more romantic turn with a parade of Chiuri’s chiffon goddess gowns. Sheer and light as clouds, this section of the show played like a dream sequence. As always with her Dior, Chiuri sought to amplify female voices. She did that literally with a live female choir providing the soundtrack. She did it with the clothes – the Ikat prints, used on sporty pop overs and duster coats were produced with female Indonesian artisans.

There were other notable collaborations. The show was preceded by a film about the 1960s collage artist Lucia Marcucci, who’s colourful work soared above he black show space, like stained glass windows in a feminist cathedral. The setting felt right. Chiuri’s belief in female creativity and fashion’s power to provoke emotion is unshakable.