Heading to the Dior Spring 2021 show today was something of a pilgrimage. Brave the wet, cold rain that will shower the whole of Paris Fashion Week, cross the muddy Luxembourg gardens, have your temperature taken, exchange your COVID-19 mask, and finally, enter the ephemeral space, decorated with gothic church vibes. Collage stained glass windows by artist Lucia Marucci lined the three walls, lighting up in a row as 12 singers stepped up to music stands facing the runway. As the women let out a series of synchronized screeches—a choral work of classical music associated with funeral ceremonies—the show started.
The opening looks appeared wonderfully artisanal. Here, Dior designer Maria Grazia Chiuri, who recently staged a cruise showcase in her native Puglia, continued to flex her Italian heritage with pieces that looked like they stepped out of the Florentine Renaissance. It was the work of artists like composer Lucia Ronchetti and director Ania Marazzi that Chiuri connected with. Paisley and floral motifs and embellished with romantic lace accessorized dresses and trousers. It felt strong and wise, like the women thinkers Chiuri’s show notes referenced—Virginia Woolf and Susan Sontag.
The next chapter saw classic Dior silhouette, the tapered Bar jacket, undergo a revolution of sorts. Here, it was loose, kimono-inspired, and pared with wide, striped trousers or long skirts. Waists were accentuated with smocking, or dropped entirely to allow for fluid movement. Words from Germano Celant’s essay Tagliare è pensare (To Cut is to Think) were heeded, “The time has now come for fashion to decipher its latest forces and desires and recognize itself as a free and original discipline.” Of course, it’s highly unlikely that clients will grasp all these layers of intellectual references when perusing a rack of Dior Spring 2021 clothes and even less than when eyeing all the delicious spring accessories, cue the twist-knot headwear that will be the Spring pick-me; fingers crossed face masks will be finally “out” next season.
Of note, there were no t-shirts with feminist messages at this show, but there was a show crasher, who strode down the runway with a large orange scarf with “We are all fashion victims,” written on it. The crasher, who WWD reported was from the climate action group Extinction Rebellion, barely raised an eyebrow amid the showgowers. As what remains of the international fashion pack as it heads into the last months of 2021, being “outed” as fashion victims is the last matter of importance on anyone’s mind. On social media, comments in this regard were equally blasé; it appears that the fashion narrative, which has been underscoring inclusivity, craftsmanship and savoir-faire, sustainability, and above all, kindness, is finally seeing an impact and resonating both inside the walls of fashion houses as well as out.