How do you bring life to a virtual fashion show?
If you're Maria Grazia Chiuri, you seek the human craft behind the clothes. You transport your audience dotted singly all over the world from their two-dimensional laptop screens to the almost tangible golden poppy fields of Puglia, Italy in a united (and much-needed) 15 minutes of escapism. You fill an Italian set with carnival-esque lights, local dancers and a collection brimming with artisan technique and whimsical detail. You take the city-dwellers AFH (away from home) to a place where magic, soul and seriously good clothes reign. You give your audience a good dose of fashion catharsis.
In short, you do as Dior Cruise 2021 just did.
'Without an audience, but live streamed to the world, Maria Grazia Chiuri presented Dior’s Cruise 2021 show last night in Lecce – the beautiful Baroque capital of Puglia's Salento, the southernmost point of Italy,' says ELLE's Fashion Director Avril Mair.
'It was, undoubtedly, her strongest statement yet. This was more than just a fashion show for the designer, whose father was born in Puglia and who has a home here – it was an emotional return to her roots and an effort to support artisans in one of the country’s poorest regions. In fact, as the [Coronavirus] pandemic broke out in February, Chiuri was here commissioning local craftspeople to make the collection.'
Almost lost techniques such as Tombolo - a traditional and highly technical form of embroidery that creates an ultra delicate lace-like finish - took pride of place in a flurry of butterfly and bloom exoskeletons adorning Chiuri's signature tulle dresses.
'It was very important to me to emphasise how much craftsmanship there is in Puglia and reinvest in it,' Chiuri explained. 'So many people depend on our work.'
Presented in the Piazza del Duomo and lit by luminarie – traditional Pugliese coloured light shows used at local festivals – models were surrounded by a troupe of tarantella dancers, an evocative folk tradition which speaks of strength and magic. This ancient mysticism runs throughout the region and somehow infused the show with a primal power.
'The clothes themselves were beautiful, with a folkloric quality – handmade lace dresses, embroidered pinafores and linen headscarves that felt honest and homespun, imbued with an almost rustic sensibility but created with great skill and love,' says Mair.
'They showed a side to Chiuri that was passionate and inspired, in a collection that was her most personal to date.'
Hand-sewn wheat motifs marked a move towards more rural iconography, and marked a second appearance for the grain in recent fashion history following Jacquemus' SS21 collection that stormed a snaking runway submerged in vast fields.
Elsewhere, scarlet poppies replaced the French roses that have become a Dior token, while the universally-loved monogrammed tote bag was re-invented in floral print and overflowing with ears of corn.
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.
In need of more inspiration, thoughtful journalism and at-home beauty tips? Subscribe to ELLE's print magazine now and pay just £6 for 6 issues. SUBSCRIBE HERE
You Might Also Like