Contemporary dance served as the dominant inspiration
“The story comes from inside the body,” read an enormous Sharon Eyal quote printed on the exterior of this season’s Christian Dior show space: a pop-up theatre assembled on the outskirts of Paris. “I’m not interested in how people move, I’m interested in what makes them move,” Pina Bausch once said. The two women served as part of the series of dancers and choreographers who inspired Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Spring 2019 designs: a line-up of legends who revolutionized their field. “The radicality of the gestures of contemporary dance [has] stimulated my imagination,” Chiuri explained. “Dance speaks about body, about freedom,” she said “and these elements are also present in fashion.” Radical female artists; liberation; creativity. So far, so on brand.
Sharon Eyal choreographed a prelude to the show
Sharon Eyal is renowned for taking an avant-garde approach to choreography: one that eschews narrative in favor of exploring extreme emotion. To reflect the relationship between women and dance (again: very on brand), Chirui enlisted Eyal to choreograph a remarkable performance that ran in sync with her show. Before any clothes appeared on the runway, two dancers dressed in illustrated bodysuits passionately performed underneath thousands of rose petals falling from the ceiling. They moved to one side to let Selena Forrest open the show in a fluid black column dress, before more of their company appeared to perform around the models that followed, criss-crossing through their paths. In lieu of a traditional finale procession, each of the models walked out to directly face the audience, enclosing the dancers who gyrated within. There was a lot of whooping coming from the bleachers – and it might sound like an awful lot, but it was rather breathtaking to see.
It offered a whistle stop tour through dance wardrobes
Tulle tutus; braided ballerina shoes; fishnet body stockings; the sort of ombré knitwear and tie-dye trousers you might wear to Rainbow Rhythms. Positioned against (dance) school ma’am suiting, and allusions to masculine costumes (tank tops, cargo pants, the occasional denim jacket slung over a floaty dress), the collection presented a thoroughly comprehensive vision of multipurpose dancewear. There were plenty of the beloved Dior gowns, too – draped Grecian numbers and floral embellished sorts – but they were constructed in such a way that they were light enough to dance in. “It’s the first time in my life I’ve used jersey!” said Chiuri, who crafted the show’s opening looks entirely from the fabric: an homage to Dior silhouettes made modern through their movement. “We wanted to transform the Dior codes so they could be used for dance.”
Headbands are now a Spring staple
That thick, taut sort that scrapes your hair right off your face, or double-banded with no embellishment, are the new Dior headgear. While Prada promised the resurrection of the Alice band (chunky and studded, and in sugary satins), Maria Grazia was going for minimalist practicality. It’s certainly easier to keep on while dancing than a beret (although there was still a smattering of those; god knows how they’d fare mid-pirouette). Whatever you prefer, chances are you’ll be wearing some kind of headband come spring.
While the theme of dance could easily lend itself to Swan Lake extravagance – or at least some costume-y closing numbers – what Chiuri designed for SS19 was a far quieter collection than in recent seasons, but one that made for a powerful impact. In lieu of sparkling tapestries or dazzling embellishment, she opted for a muted palette, for elegant drapery, for utilitarian greige tailoring and a lightness of finish. That subtlety felt remarkably refreshing – and it looked really good. Encore.
This article first appeared on Vogue.co.uk