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Those familiar with the Tuileries Garden in Paris know its historic placement between the Louvre museum and the Place de la Concorde. And those familiar with the house of Dior know its dedication to presenting new collections in regal spaces. That’s why yesterday in the famed garden there were fashion patrons and Parisian elite flocking through the bushes and sculptures to a structure built over the iconic fountain. Inside, Dior presented its Fall/Winter 2020 collection.
As special guests approached the large structure, they were greeted to a short staircase and a square door opening with “I SAY I” lights shining from inside—the first look at light works by artist Claire Fontaine, gained from an excerpt by Carla Lonzi’s feministic 1970s piece “Io Dico Io.”
Walking in, designer Maria Grazia Chiuri’s spirit of putting women first, and putting women artists at the forefront of her sets, was immediately felt. Down below, 4,000 double pages of recycled copies of Le Monde took up the floor—an ode to a 1949 photograph by Robert Capa entitled Le Monde Pixélisé, which showed Henri Matisse in his studio with his floors covered in newspapers. Up above, looking more toward the future, 15 more bright signs by Fontaine illuminated the overhead space. The signs struck the dark in various neon colors with sayings like “Women Raise The Uprising,” “Patriarchy = Repression,” and “Feminine Beauty Is A Ready-Made.”
For the new ready-to-wear collection, Chiuri was impacted by the figures of Italian feminist art from the 1960s and ‘70s. As she continued to explore the link between women, their bodies, and femininity and feminism, she took a look at the roles art and fashion play in this tale. She envisioned a path to self-assertion and self-assuredness through these outlets, allowing for prints and patterns, cuts and shapes, to bridge identity and form sisterhood. She also took a look inward, reflecting on personal diary entries and two images of her mother—a dual dose of possibility back then, envisioning what the future would hold.
One by one, Chiuri sifted through images that provided inspiration—some of actresses that were inspiration for clients of her mother’s couture atelier, others that influenced her specifically—like portraits of Carla Accardi, photos of Mila Schön by Ugo Mulas, and Germana Marucelli’s studio in Milan that was designed by artist Paolo Scheggi. Women all around her, from the past to the present, inspired her.
As the show started, we got a closer look at the details in these images that wowed Chiuri. Today, the Dior woman is like that of the past, yet with more expression, more options, and more liberation. Yes, there were classics like pea coats and pleated skirts, but there were jeans, plaid sleeveless poncho capes that matched skirts, dresses made of fringe from the baby doll hemline down, and enough hats, headscarves, bags, fishnet socks, and standout jewelry pieces to dress the feminist of today.
We also noticed smaller pleasant details: little collars with ties; over-the-hand cuff-like bracelets like last season’s; and an array of shoes like boots with fur on the inside and outside, snow boots with wide Velcro straps, simple Mary Janes, backless sandals, and logo-adorned slip-on lace-less sneakers. Larger starting points followed: a polka dot scarf that was found in the Dior archives sparked a series of dresses; t-shirts with Lonzi’s “I SAY I” were seen under vests; and suits, loose and casual, were paired with a button-down shirt and a tie, sneakers, a headscarf, and a cross-body bag.
And extra special for the time and place in which we are celebrating fashion and femininity from the house of Dior, it announced a special partnership with the grounds it presents on. From now through 2024, Dior is partnering with the Louvre to finance a series of major projects to revive the unique grounds. Beginning in April, the first of many projects will begin, as Dior and the Louvre will re-open the Northeast Grove—this time populated by 116 new trees from four different species, a contribution to the space and the biodiversity of Paris, and as an act of commitment to environmental protection.