Christian Dior Pre-Fall 2021: Let's get this party started right
There is the calm before the storm, and then there is the party after the pandemic.
Christian Dior released the lookbook and video of its Pre-Fall 2021 collection on Monday and these are definitely not clothes for blushing violets. Clearly the house of Dior expects the good times to roll by in the second half of next year.
That much was evident from the opening looks; a perfectly cut three-button bar jacket but made in a brown leopard print paired with a lace blouse and multiple chain necklaces; or chain mail pop art minis worn with fishnet tights, worthy of a latter day French Ye-Ye singer. All styled far more for after hours than cocktail hours.
Before heading out on the prowl, these Dior ladies don enormous black sunglasses worthy of Jackie Onassis escaping Ron Galella; chain belts shown over lots of exposed tummy; and scores of mini dragon pendants and pearl baubles.
The collection’s starting point was actually a vintage leopard print Dior trench coat designed back in the '50s, a reiteration of fur coats and accessories much favored by Mizza Bricard, one of Monsieur Dior’s most legendary muses, and the woman said to have invented the term Miss Dior. A lady, it was said, who never rose from her bed before 2 p.m., and always dressed in animal prints and pearls.
“I felt that her remarkable character, her inimitable extravagances of taste, would have an excellent effect on the phlegmatic temperament which I had inherited from my Norman forebears,” Monsieur Dior would write about Mizza in his autobiography.
And just like Bricard, Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri is not afraid to jumble up eras and ideas, which she does to great effect for Fall 2021. Chiuri even dipped back into her own Italian youth with the shiny happy insouciance of Fiorucci. An influence apparent in the brilliant new take on the Oblique print, seen in a see-through plastic cape with hood. Or also with silver jumpsuits; saucy silver minis with CD buttons or silver jockey caps worthy of another influence on Chiuri’s thinking - the K-pop all-female group Black Pink. The biggest girl band sensation on the planet since the Spice Girls or TLC, Black Pink became the most subscribed group on YouTube in September 2019. The group’s lead singer Jisoo is already an ambassador of Dior and featured in the launch of Dior’s new Bobby Bag.
“Fashion cannot solve the problems of the world, but it can help create more optimism. Yes, ours is complicated work, especially now in this year. But sometimes we need to see fashion as a game, that needs to be played for the pure enjoyment,” argued Chiuri in a pre-show Zoom with editors.
And even when Maria Grazia whips up a millefleurs motif brocade frock, she shows it splayed open at the front with a contrast dyed green lace bra apparent. Her self-assured contemporary heroines appear in black leather plissé minis; and lace shirts worn underneath S&M leather bustiers, topped by Parisian berets. Adding to the sense of fun, Chiuri requested Maripol, the famed chronicler of the 1980s downtown New York art and music sense, to shoot much of the collection on Polaroid, giving the atmosphere tremendous kick. It was as if the ghost of the Mudd Club backrooms had made it all the way to Dior’s Avenue Montaigne boutique. Club couture with embroideries adorned with dangling sequins or mirror discs with a stroboscopic surface.
Call it a youthquake at Dior, as Chiuri captures the joie de vivre of growing up, and the sense that fashion offers endless possibilities for individuals to reinvent themselves.
Throughout there was also a mixed cross current of ideas from Richard Hamilton’s surrealist English pop to the Day-Glo cartoon iconography of Marco Lodola to Andy Warhol’s psychedelic revamp of Renaissance master Paolo Uccello, and his legendary image of St George and the Dragon. Adding a certain grandeur to the groove.
Reflecting on the past year, Chiuri recalled her last life runway show for Dior in a tent in the Tuileries in September, as “a pretty surreal experience. To see an empty backstage is very strange. To see the city of Paris empty too. Because cities are not built to be empty… Coming to work, it’s still very quiet day by day. Nor do we know what’s going to happen with the couture show. Yes, we are creating the collection but let’s see about the show; who knows?
“In the studio we have had ups and downs. Yes, sometimes great enthusiasm, but then not. Let’s be frank, fashion is not what it was – especially this year. The system was often attacked, even by ourselves. But fashion is also a new form of humanity. Coming from the need to use clothes to change ourselves. We should be honest about that. I’ve seen so much criticism of our sector, but I like to remember that here at Dior we create beauty,” Chiuri concluded.
Though developed in the pandemic, the collection will begin retailing in May, “if all goes well,” she added.
In a word, posh power pop party fashion for post-pandemic prowling.
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