Talking About: Dior & Off-White

There’s something quite measured in the way that Maria Grazia Chiuri approaches the modern Dior woman. This season’s outing, her second ready-to-wear collection, but third in total for the house (couture back in January), seemed to combine a street sophistication. So hoods were plentiful but reincarnated in a demi-riff on the Bar jacket, as a new cape ideal. There was an overall utility feel, yet it was peppered with Chiuri’s signature femininity, and of course Dior’s elegance. And it was all – all – in navy blue.


Backstage at the Christian Dior Fall/Winter 2017 ready-to-wear show in Paris (by Anna Palermo for NOWFASHION)


Among all the colours, navy blue is the only one which can ever complete with black, it has all the same qualities,” cited the show notes of a sentiment that had originally been written by Christian Dior in The Little Dictionary of Fashion. It’s true, there’s something less harsh about it, it’s practical and functional but full of grace and seduction. And so Chiuri got lost to the shade and made her point, an impactful one, in navy.

Dresses were nipped-in-New-Look-fitted with pleated or tiered splaying skirts, natty jackets atop them and natty berets atop those. Bee necklaces felt almost medallion-like and, combined with the berets, and later denim, it felt almost Nineties rave. But done Dior style. And so here was always an underlying and precise sophistication even though it was youthful, too. Chiuri has managed to get this balance right. You feel like she knows how to straddle the line between the two customers: established and emerging. And it doesn’t have to be sensationalist.

Bags were cross-body and the J’adior slogan could be read on waistbands (a Nineties nod if ever there was one) through sheer gowns. Because remember this is a designer who came from the best gown-designing duo around, Chiuri having previously come from Valentino where she worked with Pierpaolo Picciolo. But here she’s toned down the ethereal and the overly fairy-tale element that had become so inherent at the Italian house, which also makes sense. Because the couture collection had, at times, felt a little Valentino at Dior and we needed help to separate the two. Here, there was something more modern. Still special, but less fussy, a tighter edit.

She cleverly wavered back and forth between street-sport pieces rendered in grown-up luxe and pieces that would be appropriate for a luxe or sophisticated occasion but made them modern and cool in the styling and the fabrics. And it was a shrewd move celebrating one of Monsieur Dior’s favourite colours – for the house and for those attending the show. Sticks in the mind, see.


The Off-White Fall/Winter 2017 ready-to-wear show in Paris (by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION)


Fashion loves a rumour, especially when it concerns a potential new creative director. Enter Virgil Abloh of Off-White who is one of the names wandering into the frame for the top job at Givenchy, now that Riccardo Tisici has decided to make his move. Abloh’s label, which started four years ago, built itself on a streetwear sensibility: the kind that was very “now” then. But this season, whether this was an audition or not, he’s stepped it up into new territory. And this was a collection that had plenty more stabs at finesse and elegance and eveningwear than we’ve seen before. The collection opened with check tailoring and a strapless belted little dress. This was not streetwear anymore. Of course hoodies appeared later and there was a good dose of what his customer wants, but it came with a whole lot more of the whimsical and sheer, and some sequins in there too. It was a shift, let’s say, not a change in direction, and an interesting move that in some ways couldn’t help but potentially fuel that rumour currently doing the rounds. But then Abloh, who had created an autumnal scene of leaves and who had begun the show with a recorded monologue about projects and art and being a creative, might just be going about business as usual and providing us with our own red herring in the process.


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