Dior's Peplos-Wearing Feminists

Once again, Maria Grazia Chiuri proposed her feminist manifestos at today's Dior's Haute Couture show. This season, the 80-year-old American feminist artist Judy Chicago, who has been investigating the role of women in history and culture in her work. Chicago’s work inspired Chiuri, who collaborated with the French Maison on a series of exclusive installations entitled “The Female Divine” consisting of 11 huge embroidered billboards with questions about how the world would be if it had been ruled by women. Starting from the general "What if women ruled the world?" question, to the nostalgic "Would old women be revered?" and the utopist "Would there be private property?". Yet, how did Dior manage to translate this into clothes? Chiuri thought that the peplos would be the right signifier to express womens' power as classical goddesses. She adapted the construction over the 77 looks just alternating some tailoring in the shape of Dior's classics like the Bar jacket. But draping risks to become repetitive if not highly mastered and so did the collection that spanned in the hues from gold to metal, apart from a few final looks in the shades of the spectrum. The feminist message is still on top of the priorities of Dior's communication, even if the radical vision by Judy Chicago made art and classical culture clash. From Greeks to Botticelli (but also before and after that), the idea of a woman was not independent and empowered, the only praise was an aesthetic celebration of her beauty and body standards. On the other hand, feminism itself was an unknown construct at the time and it remained so until the end of the 18th century with the first official declaration. It was somewhat strange to see feminists wearing luxury peplos. 

At Schiaparelli, Daniel Roseberry explored the duality of female power. “I wanted to emphasise the duality of the women, starting from Elsa herself,” stated Daniel Roseberry, creative director of the maison. “She was both a dreamer and an active soul. Her exuberance and rebellious mind made her the icon we all know. So my women looked at her duality and showed this in the wardrobe: the surrealist and the seductress. During the day she empowers herself with tailored suits, draped fluid gowns or skin-tight dresses with the confident attitude of someone who knows her value." The decorations in brass were a kind of sculptures beaded on the garments or used as eccentric jewellery and accessories, and were reminiscent of the work of Italian artist Alberto Giacometti famous for his thin figures, here recalled by details of human skeletons. The shades were warm with just rare flashes of bright colours appearing on the flat sandals. Suddenly, the electric blue colour popped in first as flower earring and then in a series of looks that were irreconcilable with the rest of the collection. Since then, it was an out of tune crescendo of a harlequinesque palette and, honestly, the long shiny dress with an embroidered nude look top mimicking the tan lines was really incomprehensible and so were the voluminous dresses of the finale. The message delivered by Roseberry was a bit confusing with different and hardly-understandable items mixed together with the fit and the final execution that were not as precise as they should have been for an Haute Couture collection. Sometimes it's better to focus on one concept and dare, instead of adding layers that don't fit in the story.

"I virtually wanted disclose the doors of my atelier that's why I decided to show my collection at the Jeu de Paume, a public space, that will stay open to public in the evening after the presentation. I like the idea that the intimate and exclusive world of the Haute Couture will be available for everybody”, explained Giambattista Valli. “This season it's all about a trip to the Italian Riviera, starting from an idea of lifestyle instead of just fashion. In the end luxury and elegance are also attitude even before the clothes”. It's a typical pervasive mood that get everyone spend time in Italy for holidays: not just garments, but also food, interiors, architectures, gardens. “My contemporary point of view turned it more modern. The sportswear seemed to had swept away the traditional elegance, but now I feel it's again time for something extraordinary and to do this I have been inspired by the two cities I lived the most: Rome and Paris”. The collection was designed in Roma and this affected the proportions of the clothes. “The city has a grandeur that is incomparable, everything is majestic and that's why is unique”, so the spirit of the clothes is 100% Italian. The palette was bold and come from the flora of the seaside, the sunsets and the excellences from his Country. He paid also homage to Roberto Capucci, the iconic Roman couturier, with a buganvillea dress. The jacquard, all handmade embroidered were lightly glazed to remind the Southern Italy ceramics. The designer opted for the presentation formula for his last collection and this season replicated, it was visually eye catching and the dresses were perfect to sell the Valli dream of the italian holidays.

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