Dior Celebrates the Aura of Haute Couture

Creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri uses an iconic Christian Dior design as a jumping off point for a subtly effective show.

The art of haute couture, in theory and in practice, is one of handicraft, meaning there are noticeable marks of man-madeness throughout every garment. Each piece is slightly different, and will adapt based on the wearer, the fabric, and, of course, the environment. Dior’s haute couture show played with the idea of clothing’s “aura,” or divine uniqueness, this season, with creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri and artist Isabella Ducrot teaming up for the house’s presentation, appropriately dubbed “Big Aura,” executed by the Chayanka School of Craft. Twenty-three larger than life cut-out dresses were arranged along a geometric black-and-white background, superimposed over the runway, giving new power to the dresses.

With the stage set in an almost divine way, Chiuri began the collection by considering a 1952 design by Christian Dior: La Cigale, a moiré dress in signature Dior gray that is tailored to appear somehow both rigid and sinuous. This led Chiuri to explore the dichotomy of warp and weft: the to and fro of design between structure and ease, rigor and fluidity. She kicked off the show with a run of tan trench coats, reworking the familiar fabric with innovative draping, embroidery, and cinching. From there, there were delicately embroidered sheer dresses cinched at the waist, countered by moiréd coats and skirt suits in rich tans, navy, and shades of burgundy.

Some Chiuri detractors say her shows skew repetitive in terms of silhouette, but there’s an insistent grace and ease found in the comfort of feminine shapes that are in conversation with one another, particularly on this runway. The warp of heavy organza contrasts wonderfully with the weft of bouncy silk, in black wrap dresses or Grecian pleated white dresses that slink and sway with the model. Further, the warp of embroidery found on A-line skirts paired with simple tank tops brings the Dior look of old into the new age, playing with patterns drawn across generations and cultures.

Take, for instance, the warp of a feathered corset top, capturing the look as if it’s suspended mid-air, with a swooshing effect trapping the garment in a specific time and place. It’s a feat of the atelier, yes, but it’s also a feat of Chiuri’s to design a collection that front row stars like Glenn Close, Natalie Portman, and Rihanna can all see themselves in. Each aura presents itself as a new opportunity to find power through the imagination of dressing—something everyone can tap into.


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