For Maria Grazia Chiuri's Dior debut last September, the designer's SS17 collection focused on feminism and fencing. This afternoon, for Chirui's first Dior couture show, horoscopes – a way of life for the new artistic director – took centre stage.
As the first female artistic director in the fashion house's 70-year history, the appointment of the former Valentino designer last summer was a momentous occasion and her debut ready-to-wear collection celebrated modern womanhood in all its glory. This theme was continued for this afternoon's couture show, but instead of powerful female fencers and bold feminism, femininity was championed with delicate gowns embellished and embroidered with flowers and feathers.
Set in the Musée Rodin, Dior staged just one show in the early afternoon (typically there are two sittings), having doubled its usual space to accommodate between 600 and 700 guests. The museum's interior was transformed into an enchanting, mossy garden maze with a wishing tree at the centre, adorned with jewels and charms, and a ceiling mirror reflecting the mystical scene.
Befitting of a magical woodland, the couture collection itself had a fairytale quality, opening with a high-fashion take on Little Red Riding Hood, albeit this haute heroine was dressed in head-to-toe black. The first hooded black cape was followed by a series of form-fitting, feminine silhouettes and immaculately cut, black tailored separates, featuring the house's signature Bar jacket, accessorised with intricate black butterfly or bat masks – a Dior masquerade ball takes place this evening. The black series then transitioned into a woodland nymph-esque section as models emerged onto the verdant labyrinthine catwalk wearing floral headpieces or feather headdresses and structured gowns. This was a modern-day Midsummer Night's Dream with sumptuous gowns fit for a Shakespearean forest princess. Look out for these twinkling tulle dresses and velvet ballgowns on the Oscars red carpet next month.
While Versace cancelled its couture show this season, instead choosing to focus on client events and an intimate presentation, Chiuri's stunning Dior show today proved that haute couture is still relevant in 2017. “Haute couture will always remain at the heart of the house – it’s extremely important,” Sidney Toledano, chief executive officer of Christian Dior Couture told WWD. “We saw growth in 2016, despite security issues in Paris in the first half. The second half, with the fall collection shown in July, was tremendously successful.”
Kirsten Dunst, Diane Kruger, A$AP Rocky, Olivia Palermo, Bianca Jagger and Diane von Furstenberg were just some of the A-listers who attended the Dior show to witness Chiuri's first couture collection, dedicated to the late Franca Sozzani. And what a breathtakingly beautiful tribute it was.