Discovering the Dior set behind the wooden Musée Rodin doors is always a delight. Following a mountain of mirrors and another of flowers, for the Christian Dior Spring 2018 RTW show, its artistic designer, Maria Grazia Chiuri, offered a rather pared-back, almost prehistoric-looking entrance, albeit monumental. Picture a giant slab of rock with words inscribed on it in cursive letters: If life is a game of cards, we are born without knowing the rules, signed Niki de Saint Phalle. For most millennial guests, de Saint Phalle is not a name that rings familiar. A French-American artist known for her enormous sculptures and notably bulbous women, de Saint Phalle was also a staunch feminist. But she was, after all, a woman, and therefore not as celebrated as her male contemporaries during her time (1930-2002).
What guests discovered behind the rock was unmistakenly Antoni Gaudí inspired. To wit: shards of broken glass were glued to an undulating floor and wall, while the end of the catwalk featured pillars reminiscent of those found in the park but also in Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia cathedral. De Saint Phalle was in fact influenced by his work and in turn sought to combine artistic and natural elements in her sculptures.
For Spring 2018, Chiuri maintained the feminist theme that she introduced in her first season with the House and opened the show with Sasha Pivovarova in a sailor sweater with the words Why Are There No Great Female Artists? written on it. With an invitation for dialogue launched, she showcased practical patchwork jeans, a racer jumpsuit, pantsuits, and a leather trench in Dior red 999 so slick it reflected the lights of the hundreds of cameras pointed at it. Chiuri also featured net shirts with elastic Dior branded waist bands and sensual (albeit flat) lace up boots in black mesh or mirror metallic and a string of Mary Janes that every fashion forward 15-year-old will want for Eid.
Chiuri became more literal with her De Saint Phalle reference with the introduction of quirky green godzillas, witches, and angels embroidered in knit sweaters and on skirts. These were directly inspired from the artist and fallen aristocrat who had written, As in all fairy tales, before finding the treasure on my way I met dragons, witches, magicians, and the angel of temperance. These figures also appeared as a nod to women’s spirit: at times sweet and matronly, other times strong and rooted like a tree trunk, but also raging and fiery like a monster.
Accenting the colors and creatures were a smattering of metallic separates and dresses that appeared towards the end of the show. They created a luminous finale following the lace, silk, leather, and even plastic pieces. Meanwhile, bags came in all sizes, from totes and shoppers to clutches.
In the September issue of Vogue Arabia, Chiuri explained to Vogue Arabia editor-in-chief, Manuel Arnaut, that designers had to be realistic and design for the woman of today. A few hours after the Dior show, news broke that Saudi Arabia would lift the ban on women driving. As people from all nations celebrated one couldn’t help but think—what a wonderful time it is to be a woman—but especially, an Arab woman. That leather racer jumpsuit might just be the look for a Saudi woman to wear when she turns the ignition for the first time.