The opening act of the Dior Spring 2019 Couture show featured all-women acrobats in black and white yin-yang jumpsuits contorting their muscular bodies into various supporting positions—bridges and foot-on-shoulder human towers recalled Cataluña’s nimble Castellers. As the lineup of models proceeded to wind around the show venue—a circus big top on the grounds of the Musée Rodin—in all matter of circus-inspired dress, and the stocky gymnasts continued their athletic toiling, Ruggero Leoncavallo’s operatic song Vesti la Giubba came to mind. “Laugh clown and everyone will applaud.” The theme was first explored by French philosopher and dramatist Diderot in the Paradox of the Actor, whereby he argues that any great comedian is guided by intelligence, not emotion.
For how many women can relate to these emotionless, robust gymnasts? They, who juggle the tasks of both man and woman in their daily lives, fulfilling roles of wife, mother, career woman, and wellness expert racing along the perpetual hamster wheel as they aim to “have it all.” Alas, it is a 21st-century syndrome driven out of need, rarely desire.
For those of means, Maria Grazia Chiuri‘s couture offering provides the ideal wardrobe for the contemporary woman’s endless costume changes. Tailored suits in neutral and primary colors feature Chinese knot buttons and Harlequin collars. Miniskirts, though not particularly touted in the Middle East, hold the form of accordions, and floor-length, golden dresses are decorated with flame silhouettes—a literal reference to jumping through fire. While the venue was filled with editors, buyers, and influencers dressed in toile de jouy patterns, horsewoman looks, and saddle bags galore, one couldn’t help but wonder if the crowd will laugh or cry come next season when everyone will don clown attire. Of course, there were several looks that were not so literal in their referencing and stunned for their craftsmanship, elegance, and signature (of yore) Dior glamour.
If Chiuri’s collections have divided fashion critics since her appointment, no one can argue that she has incited conversations, reinforcing statements like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “We should all be feminists,” and referencing Linda Nochlin’s essay, “Why have there been no great women artists?” Having looked to previous decades for inspiration in the past, for Dior Spring 2019 couture, now, she holds a mirror up to today’s society to poignantly remind women: the show must go on.