Going back to where the story of Dior began, Dior Autumn-Winter 2016-2017 couture collection was revealed at 30 avenue Montaigne, the original atelier of Monsieur Dior in Paris.
It is Paris haute couture week and all eyes are on the house of Christian Dior. But not, however, trained on either the catwalk collection or the designer duo responsible. Instead, the fashion industry awaits official confirmation of the widely reported appointment of Maria Grazia Chiuri to the role of creative director at Dior, which has been vacant since the departure last autumn of Raf Simons. An announcement is expected shortly after Valentino, for which Chiuri currently designs, presents its couture show on Wednesday.
If her appointment is confirmed, Chiuri will be the first female creative director at Dior, a house which, at its core, is about femininity. The prospect of a woman rewriting what femininity looks like from the head of the design studio at Christian Dior is intriguing. Chiuri, in partnership with Pierpaulo Piccioli, has enjoyed a decade of prodigious success at Valentino, where profits have risen sharply. The signature graceful, chaste, narrow gowns have not only won stellar reviews but become influential on mass fashion. (If you have noticed dresses in Zara with a cultured Renaissance princess look to them recently, Valentino is the reason why.)
In this context the Dior haute couture show, expected to be the last by interim designers Serge Ruffieux and Lucie Meier, could have been little more than hold music. But, far from sulking at being passed over, Ruffieux and Meier were a class act, putting on an elegant show which celebrated the Dior heritage. As an example of fulfilling duty with good grace in less than ideal circumstances, many figures currently in the British public eye could learn from the gravitas and maturity displayed at this Paris fashion week.
Dior pulled back from splashing out on the futuristic palace of mirrors and steel erected in the gardens of the Musee Rodin, staging the show in the Avenue Montaigne headquarters of the house. On the catwalk, the models’ long straight hair simply tied back with gold clasps and the flat shoes which allowed them to pad quietly through the white-painted salon, had perhaps a touch of Valentino about them. But for the most part, these clothes were simply Dior. Some elements were drawn from Dior’s early history (the Bar jacket, with its pronounced hips) and others from the recent, Raf Simons era (the minimal, flounce-free strapless bodices), but everything was black and white. There was no fashion headline to thrill the crowds, just a message of unity and elegance.
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