Cou­ture mag­nif­i­cence

L’Officiel Middle East (English) - - Contents - BY MONA SALEM

The labyrinth; ir­reg­u­lar, al­most im­pen­e­tra­ble, like a se­cret gar­den. This is the im­age that in­spired Maria Grazia Chi­uri, Artis­tic Direc­tor of the women's col­lec­tions for the house of Dior, for her first Haute Cou­ture sea­son.

The labyrinth; ir­reg­u­lar, al­most im­pen­e­tra­ble, like a se­cret gar­den. This is the im­age that in­spired Maria Grazia Chi­uri, Artis­tic Direc­tor of the women's col­lec­tions for the house of Dior, for her first Haute Cou­ture sea­son. Fas­ci­nated by the myr­iad of in­ter­pre­ta­tions to which this ar­che­typal form has given rise over the ages, she per­ceived her ad­ven­ture into the heart of the Dior world as be­ing akin to en­ter­ing a labyrinth, the way sprin­kled with the flow­ers, plants and al­le­gor­i­cal im­ages that form part of the iconog­ra­phy of th­ese places but which, at the same time, ref­er­ence the imag­i­na­tion of Chris­tian Dior who wrote of them: "After women, flow­ers are the most di­vine of creations. They are so del­i­cate and charm­ing, but they must be used care­fully."

The re­sult is evening dresses in changeant and pow­dery col­ors ( mauve, blue, pink, gray) which evoke the pass­ing of the sea­sons and of life it­self, and whose lay­ers of tulle trap ex­quis­ite flow­ers, like those we pre­serve in our most prized herbar­i­ums. Claude Lalanne, for his part, imag­ined that the flow­ers, bram­bles, and but­ter­flies of cos­tume jew­elry landed on bod­ies ready to spring to life. Mem­ory is the driv­ing force shap­ing a new story that rewrites the House's lex­i­con, trans­lat­ing it into shapes and cuts that are the im­print of the sil­hou­ettes, dreams and de­sires of to­day's women. Lace, for ex­am­ple, is cut out and re­mounted on or­ganza, and pleated tulles in fairy tale hues are lay­ered in com­po­si­tions that are both ethe­real and ma­jes­tic. Stephen Jones' hats and masks bring an as­pect of gothic phan­tas­magoric with a punk edge. Maria Grazia Chi­uri em­braces the art of div­ina­tion, trans­form­ing it to em­bel­lish her creations: em­broi­dered stars stand out against gold- col­ored tulle, tarot sym­bols are hand- painted on the white pan­els of long dresses.

This white can be found in­side a black coat, and adds a fur­ther el­e­ment to the fem­i­nine tuxedo. Re­born in a se­ries of fresh in­ter­pre­ta­tions, this typ­i­cally mas­cu­line evening out­fit be­comes the defin­ing piece of a con­tem- po­rary take on fem­i­nin­ity. The Bar jacket is de­con­structed and rein­vented, even as a cape. Pleated, roomy cu­lottes have satin on the side, and the Domino coat an im­pos­ing black vel­vet hood. This voy­age is guided by a de­sire for beauty, where los­ing one­self is a nec­es­sary step to chal­leng­ing one­self and evolv­ing. And so, for the fi­nale, Maria Grazia Chi­uri imag­ined a splen­did ball straight out of a fairy tale. Lib­er­at­ing and un­for­get­table.

Eugénie dress, Haute Cou­ture col­lec­tion fall-win­ter 1948. Pho­to­cre­dit : Chris­tian Dior

Nor­man Parkin­son Ltd. Cour­tesy Nor­man Parkin­son Ar­chive, via Getty Im­ages.

Bar jacket, Haute Cou­ture col­lec­tion spring-sum­mer 1947. As­so­ci­a­tion Willy May­wald/adagp, Paris 2016.

Left: Cour­tesy of Dior

Up: Bar jacket, Haute Cou­ture col­lec­tion spring-sum­mer 1947. As­so­ci­a­tion Willy May­wald/adagp, Paris 2016

Eugénie dress, Haute Cou­ture col­lec­tion fall-win­ter 1948. Pho­to­cre­dit : Willy May­wald. As­so­ci­a­tion Willy May­wald.

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