People react to wanderlust in different ways. Some think it’s time to crack out the wooden jewellery and tie dye, others take things in a slightly different direction. Maria Grazia Chiuri falls in the latter camp; for her second couture outing, she was inspired by the travels of Christian Dior after the second world war. This isn’t the sort of travel that involves flip flops and a backpack; this is world exploration on a grand scale – the clothes have got to have some gravitas.
Her route into the archives this season? The opening procession of looks was a rhapsody in Dior grey. Full, ankle-length skirts, mannish trousers and nipped-in jackets – something of a Dior lexicon at present – came crafted from charcoal herringbone wool, cinched with brown leather belts then topped and tailed with trilbies and chunky loafers.All the elegance of New Look Dior but with an androgynous practicality. Function and feminism go hand-in-hand: it’s the logical conclusion to the messaging proposed on the graphic tees of SS17. That collection said it; this collection shows it.
"All the elegance of New Look Dior but with an androgynous practicality"
The Dior woman certainly had places to explore. Retro-futurist aviators on and gloves idly held in hand, the models appeared to be in transit; this sense of movement and velocity was enhanced by lightweight, diaphanous fabrics that rippled and billowed as they walked. The greyscale gave way to multi-coloured looks of patchwork velvet, layered tulle and map-print jackets, like pieces picked up or crafted along the journey. They felt as if they had been worn and lived in, become imbued with the wearer’s experiences; outfits with stories to tell. This is, in many ways, unusual for a couture collection, where untouchable beauty is the ideal. Sometimes it’s nice to get a reality check amidst the fairytales. The coats and separates were wearable, practical. The shoes were flat, realistic. Even the gowns, while breathtakingly beautiful, were relatable; the volumes were restrained and the lengths were sensible. In fact, the whole collection looked as if could pack it in your steamer trunk and set sail for lands undiscovered.
And that is just what we might do.