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Italian cinema and Parisian couture met in the mystic middle for Dior’s Spring/Summer 2021 haute couture collection debut. Presented this morning in the form of a film, the house drew the fashion community in with a pictorial work by the Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone. In lieu of a physical show, the video led patrons through a young woman’s quest to know herself.
The journey begins with opening scenes of a Tarot card reader greeting the veiled female with a large, rough deck of cards, whispering, “Pick a card.” Moments later, the young woman deliberately slides one to her—The High Priestess. A blurred moment in time transitions the girl from dual realities, dissolving one scene to the next with the switch of location, clothing, and circumstance.
The High Priestess is first given a large key, granting her access to a castle. First basking in a cold glow from a long hallway, she wanders from room to room, crossing curious people in her path. Some give her cues and clues to explore other rooms and the characters that inhabit them, while other confuse her, encouraging her missteps.
At times, she transforms into these other characters, but remains living in a dual reality, looking at herself from another person’s viewpoint, and vice-versa. For the final scene, she is greeted by the first female character with short brown hair, half-submerged in a steamy tub down an illuminating pathway. They kiss, then coalesce into one form. The dreamy unveiling of SS21 ends in credits, with details on every look presented in each character’s enchanting scenes.
For this visual tale, Maria Grazia Chiuri tapped a magical realm to conceptualize deeper meaning. To explore the complex relationship one has with oneself, she symbolically illustrated our fascination with others, the uncertainty of credence, and the perplexing nature of human destiny. These extraordinary thoughts were punctuated throughout the film by spirited couture outfits, including new evening gowns, including some featuring illustrations by Pietro Ruffo.
The enigmatic awakening continued with more voluminous silhouettes and accessories, dotted with hand-painted embellishments, zodiac signs, and jacquard sprinkled with gleaming stars. A stunning cape welcomed multicolored feathers with 3-D dimensions; an ivory lace dress is adorned with hand-painted and hand-embroidered pomegranate applique; and a classic Miss Dior dress in raffia jacquard skims catches the air with a fringed hem. Through Tarot, we saw each look of velvet, satin, tulle, lamé, and more hold power on screen, reeling the viewer in with otherworldly details.
Tarot, arguably first found in the 15th century thanks to the work of Bonifacio Bembo for the Duke of Milan, was something Chiuri decided to explore during the first bout of isolation amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In such an unsettling time, she deepened her study of the cards to better understand herself. In particular, she read Italo Calvino’s The Castle of Crossed Destinies.
For the Garrone-made film, Chiuri revealed a similar storyline to reveal how each card could be available to infinite interpretations. Further, it was joined by a sentiment tied back to the house’s founder, who also has connections to the world of Tarot. In the first few pages of Christian Dior’s autobiography, he said: “The most important feature of my life—I would be both ungrateful and untruthful if I failed to acknowledge it immediately—has been my good luck; and I must also acknowledge my debt to the fortune-tellers who have predicted it.”