Beauty. Conflict. Power. It’s not what we normally associate with the house of Dior. The name alone brings images of exclusive French elegance and strong but still traditional femininity. But no more. Maria Grazia Chiuri’s ready-to-wear-collection for FW21/22 hands us our childhood fairytales on a platter – but spiced with a modern twist. “The Beauty and The Beast” and “Little Red Riding Hood” will no longer be the same.
The collection is dark, and a network of symbols. The tale is not an escape from reality, it is a challenge. Stereotypes and archetypes are revisited but put into a narrative that takes place sometime in the future. Colors, materials, and details on garments as well as accessories gives us the idea: blue cashmere coats with red and white embellishments symbolizes the toy soldiers, shimmering gold lame and floating lurex jacquards adds magic and mystery. Black boldly asserts itself on jackets and skirts embellished with the cannage motif – classic Dior. And the red hoodies and capes are – obviously – fit for a Little Red Riding Hood, but not the one that get eaten by the wolf. Maria Grazia Chiuri’s heroine has more in common with the feminist version from Angela Carter’s “The Bloody Chamber” collection from 1979.
And so “Beauty and the beast”: Maria Grazia Chiuri dives deep into the heart of darkness of this thriller about passionate love, the sort that can lift evil spells. The fairytale, originally written by two French authors Madame d’Aulnoy and Madame Le Prince de Beaumont was turned into a classic movie by Jean Cocteau – «La Belle et la Bête» – in 1946. Maria Grazia Chiuri’s vibe owes more to this classic movie than Hollywood’s romantic fantasy from 2017.
Choosing the Hall of Mirrors – the most emblematic room in the palace of Versailles as a fitting stage for this digital showcase may initially have raised some eyebrows. The 75 meters long hall covered with 357 grand mirrors reflecting the numerous crystal chandeliers was intended to illustrate the power of the ancient regime and its powerful monarch Louis XIV.
But Chiuri wanted to put her own twist on this as well. Working with the Italian artist Silvia Giambone they covered all the mirrors with Giambone’s replica mirrors that are spiked and covered up – as a symbol of the conflicts a mirror image can cause on us.
“We cannot deny history, but we can symbolically transform it” says Giambone and adds: “I wanted to exchange the power with conflict. And beauty. Where there is beauty, there is also often danger. And violence.” – that is what her spiked mirros symbolize, she explains in this video about setting up the runway along with chorographer Sharon Eyal. So that sums it up: you dream about living the life of a princess, you do not have to sit passive and wait for the prince to come rescue you on his white horse. You just need good style – and a hefty bank account.