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Dior showcases fantasy and miniatures for haute couture

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

Jul 6, 2020

With Haute Couture Week going digital for the first time, due to the coronavirus pandemic, questions were being asked about whether luxury fashion houses could express the same magic as they do with a live catwalk showcase, well Dior invited the fashion world into a magical and cinematic world filled with mermaids, nymphs, and tree-people for its autumn/winter 2020-2021 collection.

Dior’s whimsical fashion film, ‘Le Mythe Dior’, directed by Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone, follows the journey of the haute couture collection in miniature form inside a doll’s house-like trunk, which embodies 30 Avenue Montaigne, carried by two bellboys to a variety of mythical creatures in a pre-Raphaelite world.

“Surrealist images manage to make visible what is in itself invisible,” explains Dior creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri of her autumn-winter 2020-2021 haute couture collection. “I’m interested in mystery and magic, which are also a way of exorcising uncertainty about the future.”

The creation of miniature haute couture designs pays homage to the Théâtre de la Mode, a roving exhibition of small-scale fashion mannequins by French couturiers that travelled between Europe and America right after the war in 1945 due to wartime shortages. Much like the current unprecedented time, which has seen ateliers closed for periods of time due to the pandemic lockdown.

This idea saw the Dior haute couture ateliers craft miniature versions of the 37-piece collection to fit a mannequin standing 55cm tall, as well as full-sized versions, which the mythical creators model in the film. Each of the miniature looks, from the satin crepe dresses to the organza blouses and flared jacquard skirts were all crafted by hand as if they were real haute couture garments, just at a third of the size.

“In this way, it feels only natural to recount the story of extraordinary haute couture silhouettes by reinterpreting the female body through the singular prism of the fashion doll,” states Dior in the show notes.

Dior showcases doll-sized haute couture garments for autumn/winter 2020-21

For the collection itself, Chiuri took inspiration from the work of female Surrealist artists such as Lee Miller, Dora Maar and Jacqueline Lamba, who she explains “transcended the role of muses to which their beauty had initially relegated them in order to champion – in their lives and surrealist works a different femininity”.

The pieces have been imbued with that attitude, where “one that is connected, attuned to nature and transformation,” added Chiuri, with certain pieces displaying spectacular gradations of red, like a coral reef swaying in the glimmer of the ocean, while soft greys, neutral tones and golden yellow hues add luminescence to the collection to give a magical feel.

For the day, Chiuri showcased draped suits in men’s fabrics, the classic Dior Bar jacket alongside a matching razor-pleated skirt, and a white belted double-cashmere coat with Tarot embroidery inspired by French painter Jacqueline Lamba’s tarot designs.

However, it was the magnificent eveningwear, highlighted beautifully by a bustier dress in turtledove grey tulle with Chantilly lace appliqué featuring blue and yellow, draped Grecian column dresses, a bronze toga dress with kimono sleeves and a draped black gown with pleated ruffles and fringing that really showcased the magic of Dior couture, even in miniature form and online the craftsmanship of these pieces really shined through.

It was also nice to see the Dior ateliers playing a starring role in the film presentation, with a team of dressmakers putting the final touches on the miniature versions of the collection to start the fantasy film, before packing them off in the trunk to roam the mythical world of couture shoppers in the wilderness.

Dior called out on social media for lack of diversity with its all-white cast

While the cinematography was praised on social media, the lack of diversity in the casting, which was all-white, from the models to the atelier staff was called out as a chance missed by Dior especially in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. Just last month, the fashion house stated that it was “allies in the fight against racism,” however, by featuring an all-white cast in this big-budget haute couture production it doesn’t show that Dior is following through with its statements.

Images: courtesy of Dior