Maria Grazia Chiuri is bringing a haute couture circus to town with a themed runway show in Dubai.
Roll up, roll up! On March 18, Dior’s creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, will transform Safa Park in Dubai into a magnificent circus to showcase her ambitious haute couture SS19 collection. The show debuted in Paris during couture week, staged in a big-top tent in the Musée Rodin. Models strutted on a rainbow-tiled runway amid strings of lights as a troupe of acrobats and contortionists from all-female performance group Mimbre put on a spellbinding show.
While the acrobats won’t be making their way to the UAE, the show is still set to be the first of its kind in the region from Chiuri, who follows in the footsteps of Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana in bringing extravagant presentations to Dubai. The event’s entertainment is still to be confirmed but there’s no doubt the Italian designer will continue to champion female talent. She is also set to reveal fashion pieces designed specifically and exclusively for the region. “The strength and diversity of culture in the Middle East inspires creativity, ranging from art to fashion,” she says. “I am looking forward to coming to Dubai for the show.”
Originally published in the March 2019 issue of Vogue Arabia
Playing ringmaster has long been an integral part of the Christian Dior story, with Monsieur Dior himself being a fan of the circus and regularly attending events at Cirque D’Hiver in Paris – the same place where, in 1955, Richard Avedon took his now iconic “Dovima With Elephants” photo. In the portrait, Dovima – the reigning supermodel of the day – wears Dior couture, standing tall and poised like a ballerina between two elephants. Former Dior creative director John Galliano also touched upon circus references for some of his collections.
Before attempting to rewrite that chapter of Dior’s history, Chiuri sought inspiration from Victorian fairgrounds and photographer Cindy Sherman’s images of clowns. Pablo Picasso’s costumes for the Ballets Russes’ 1917 performance of Parade was also an influence, even prompting the show’s hashtag: #DiorDreamParade. The result is a show full of theatrics and a collection full of razzle-dazzle.
High ruffled necklines in structured tulle and balloon-sleeved tops are reminiscent of a modern clown. Embroidered and sequined skirts are shortened as tutus, nodding to the dress codes of acrobats, while a tailored red blazer and bodysuits etched in artwork recall lion tamers and the tattooed women who were popular circus attractions at the turn of the 20th century.
All the looks are completed with Stephen Jones-designed sequined bonnets fastened under the chin, while for the makeup, Peter Philips took inspiration from the Pierrot clown: ultra-natural skin and smudged, black-rimmed eyes, with a straight line drawn from the lower eyelid to the top of the cheekbone. “It’s very interesting when you have the opportunity to do a fashion show in a new place,” Chiuri says. “So when the opportunity arose to present the haute couture collection in Dubai, it seemed like a great opportunity to me, not only because a new audience would get to see the Circus collection, but also because I could reconsider the work already done and have 15 new silhouettes made by the Dior ateliers. These ensembles are in tune with the couture theme but are absolutely new in their shapes and materials.”
In her show notes Chiuri described the circus as a “magical place.” “The imagination of many artists has been stimulated by the fascination for a world that is both wondrous and raw, poetic and indispensable.” And now she is set to sprinkle some of that Dior magic on Dubai.