With a dramatic set designed by Judy Chicago and a collection that drew inspiration from the classical world, Dior’s spring/summer 2020 couture collection proved an embarrassment of riches centering around the divine concept of femininity. Here, we round up everything you need to know as Haute Couture week kicks off in Paris.
The American feminist artist, Judy Chicago, was the creative behind Dior’s set this afternoon, staged once again in the garden of the Musée Rodin. The 80-year-old creative, who works from her studio in New Mexico and is best known for her installations which focus on birth and the role of women in society, called her tented structure “The Female Divine”. Originally designed in the 1970s, but never produced until now, from the sky it took the shape of a voluptuous woman’s body. In May, Chicago will unveil her first ever retrospective at San Francisco’s de Young museum. Can’t get there? Head over to Paris instead: Chicago’s installation, which she signed at the entrance, will remain in situ for one week as part of an exhibition, and will be open to the public after a private dinner held here this evening in honor of her collaboration with creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri.
The Big Question
“What if women ruled the world?” It was a question raised by Chicago, and it became the driving inspiration for Maria Grazia. Huge, richly embroidered banners hung from the tented ceiling set out to answer it in swirling script. “Would there be violence?” asked one. “Would both women and men be gentle?” posed another. “Would both women and men be strong?” “Would there be equal parenting?” “Would God be female?” The opening song on the soundtrack, Björk’s All Is Full Of Love, perhaps went some way towards answering it.
Greek To Me
The peplos dress headlined in this spring collection, as Maria Grazia reinterpreted the ancient design in myriad variations. From draped liquid silk jersey, to whisper-weight sheer silks and others crafted entirely out of golden fringe or wrapped in braided cords, the combined effect was a powerful message of femininity. Even her suiting was a softer affair here: Bar jackets were less rigid, tweaked to be more forgiving on the body with draped sashes enveloping torsos. Going back to the origins of this costume revisited another favourite question of Chiuri’s, “Are clothes modern?” (Remember, rendered as a slogan, it was emblazoned across the opening look of Dior’s previous couture collection.) With the classical world on her mind, Maria Grazia drew inspiration from classical representations of goddesses; in particular, she cited Athena, goddess of wisdom, courage and justice.
Chiuri’s friend and one-time collaborator, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, watched from the front row. Their relationship goes back to 2016, when the designer made her debut for Dior using the title from the novelist’s award-winning tract, “We Should All Be Feminists” on a T-shirt. Chimamanda’s work in fashion goes beyond Dior: she is also involved in the Wear Nigerian Project, an initiative to support and promote Nigerian fashion on the global stage. In December, she hosted the Wear Nigerian fashion show in Lagos, which Maria Grazia attended.
Fields Of Wheat
A golden ear of wheat was the hit motif. It formed the design of a brocade ballgown, and popped up elsewhere, gilded into torques, tiaras, earrings, and belts. A symbol of luck, wealth and prosperity, it seemed just right for Dior’s couture clientele.