Dior’s spring/summer 2022 haute couture show was dedicated to craftsmanship. Below, Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen shares five key takeaways.
It was inspired by nothing but craftsmanship
There were barely any pictures on Maria Grazia Chiuri’s mood board at Christian Dior this season. In place of the intellectual and artistic references that normally underpin her haute couture collections, she dedicated this one entirely to craftsmanship. “The collection celebrates the atelier,” she said during a preview. “I wanted to explain that the atelier is different to what it was in the past. It’s not just Avenue Montaigne. It’s something that exists around the world. We have different ateliers – in Paris, in India – and a dialogue between them. It’s about realizing something together. It’s community work.” Enter Chanakya School of Craft in India, a long-time collaborator of Dior, which educates women in generational crafts such as specialized embroidery.
It demonstrated the humanity of haute couture
Chiuri used the collection – retained in a muted palette of blacks, whites and grays – to demonstrate how embroidery is a vital component in haute couture construction, and not just something decorative you apply on top. Many of the dresses in the collection were physically structured with embroidery that looked like lace, while knitted capes and dresses were pieced together using embroidery so fine it becomes invisible. Those details were created by some of the countless artisans it takes to realize haute couture garments. “In fashion there’s this idea to celebrate the genius of the creative director like he’s done it all alone. It’s not true. This dialogue enriches me, with the premier, with the seamstresses, with the embroiderers. It helps to create these beautiful things,” Chiuri said.
It featured an all-embroidered set
Highlighting her intention with the collection, Chiuri commissioned the artists Madhvi and Manu Parekh to create graphic, colorful works for the walls of her show space in the garden of Musée Rodin. They were created entirely through embroidery executed by Chanakya. “The idea was to celebrate craft, but to celebrate also our cultures and the interconnectivity between cultures and craft,” said Karishma Swali, the director of Chanakya, who joined Chiuri in the studio. “The entire installation is about 340 m2 entirely embroidered by hand by 380 of our artisans. If you want to get into the hours of the piece… it’s about 280,000 hours of women artisans who have graduated from the school, and men artisans who are master artisans generationally, working together.”
It was perfectly timed for post-pandemic weddings
Of the collection itself, Chiuri said she was inspired by a certain romanticism and fragility. “We are living in a moment where we understand our fragility, and I think it’s important to transform this into clothes. We are living in a time of constant change. During Christmas time, I was honestly a little bit depressed because I thought we were done with Covid, and then I saw the numbers going up again. So, probably, I need to feel calm.” That calmness translated into a sense of purity, which – in the evening wear – often felt quite bridal. For those who finally get to have their wedding in 2022, after years of postponements, the Dior haute couture collection read like an inspiration book of silhouettes for brides-to-be.
It did ‘couture daywear’ well
Chiuri is a couturier, who doesn’t see haute couture as something strictly synonymous with ballrooms and red carpets. It’s refreshing in a time when our return to day-to-day dressing needs the considered studies haute couture daywear can provide, and this season, it’s exactly what Chiuri delivered. Her pristine trouser suits, serenely tailored jackets and super luxe woolen day dresses proved that there’s nothing as major as a very simple-looking, extravagantly-made piece of everyday clothing. Chic. “Couture creates something around your body, which is really personal,” Chiuri pointed out, illustrating why haute couture looks so much better than regular clothing. “It’s built around the body.”
Originally published in Vogue.co.uk