how dior's dance pushed new-wave feminism in paris
Alongside a Sharon Eyal-choreographed performance, the house’s first female Design Director stripped away restraints from elegant clothing.
All images Dior
Dior opened Paris Fashion Week with a Bureau Betak-produced, Sharon Eyal-choreographed, Ori Lichtik-soundtracked epic that celebrated the next chapter in female freedom. As models shared centre stage with the Sharon Eyal and eight of her talented dancers, Maria Grazia Chiuri continued her renovation of her luxury house representing old-school femininity into one of new-wave feminism.
As the first female Design Director in Dior’s 71-year-history, Maria Grazia Chiuri has, since her appointment in 2016, carefully crafted a new chapter for the French luxury house and brought the debate around female empowerment to Paris Fashion Week and beyond. Responding to today's turbulent, troubled and post-#metoo times, the designer’s collections have often looked back to move forward and have continually connected fashion to feminism. Chiuri’s use of Linda Nochlin’s battle-cry essay Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? in her spring/summer 18 collection and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists in her powerful debut have reverberated around the world, and placed fashion directly within the wider discussions around women’s equality, inspiring many other designers to follow her lead. Two years on since her appointment and Maria Grazia Chiuri is pushing for change harder than ever.
For spring/summer 19, she drew inspiration from the works of a series of female dancers and choreographers who shook up established codes in order to develop another idea of beauty of the body in motion. These great heroines of contemporary dance -- Loie Fuller, Isadora Duncan, Ruth Saint Denis, Martha Graham, and Pina Bausch -- revolutionised their disciplines in order to reconnect it to the origins of the world. At Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri is attempting to do the same.
“It's not a question of bodily perfection, but of flexibility and strength of movement,” explained choreographer Sharon Eyal in the show notes. From the mesmerising dance to the collection itself, the message was that both dance and fashion continually define the body and, through discipline, can teach us how to own it.
"The experience of dance, its most intimate truth, the fact that it is a means of universal expression, and the radicality of the gestures of contemporary dance have all stimulated my imaginations," Chiuri explained in the show notes. “I wanted to speak about dance with a different point of view,” she added backstage. “I think that dance and fashion are very close. They both speak about the body and modern choreographers speak about freedom.”
For Chiuri, modern creative directors should speak about freedom, too. So, as petals rained down on Sharon Eyal’s captivating dance company, Chiuri presented a collection that echoed the lightness and flexibility of the troupe. Bodysuits, tanks and jumpsuits formed their own choreography of clothing, with subtle variations and delicate movements that pushed poses into alternative forms, always free of restraint. “I kept traditional Dior shapes, but removed the corsets,” Chiuri explained. “The challenge is how to make the shape elegant while making it as comfortable as possible.” Stripping away the corsets, under-wiring, and stiffened fabrics of the old world, her answer for a brave new world came in the use of stretchy leotards and long flowing pleated jersey. Simple but oh so powerful.