Back in June, as the first wave of coronavirus began to recede, Dior held a joint press conference with artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pietro Beccari, CEO and brand president, where they explained why they were forging onward with the Cruise 2021 show planned in Italy that July — the first live runway after Covid-19 dictated the Fall 2020 couture collection be presented digitally.
"When it comes to fashion, nothing carries the emotion of a real fashion show," Beccari said at the time, later adding: "We hope to have some audience in September, if not a full room."
Their wishes came true in Paris on Tuesday, with Dior putting on another full-scale presentation for Spring 2021. This time, there was a slightly larger audience of press and influencers. Set amongst a collaged, stained glass "cathedral" by artist Lucia Marcucci, with the Sequenza 9.3 ensemble directed by Catherine Simonpietri (re)interpreting Lucia Ronchetti's "Sangu di rosa and the Voceri tradition" as soundtrack, the themes of feminism, art and portest were so familiar that a gatecrasher from Extinction Rebellion left even brand execs wondering if she had merely been part of the show.
By now, just over four years into her time heading up womenswear at Dior, you either love Chiuri's vision for the brand or you really, really don't. But while the latter may be more vocal on social media, it's the former who are driving reported record-setting sales for the French heritage brand — and that customer apparently can't get enough of the designer's luxe bohemian designs, underlined by feminist messaging. In that sense, the Spring 2021 collection delivers, chockfull as it is of Chiuri-isms, albeit even more relaxed than usual. (Think paisley coats cut like robes and light-as-air chiffon gowns.)
The show notes indicate that women at home served as a point of inspiration, be they poets or intellectuals, "wrapped in infinite layers of color, like Virginia Woolf, or dressed in a simple white shirt, like Susan Sontag." It was clever of Chiuri to rethink the famous Bar silhouette in loose denim, a jacket tied shut at the waist layered over a flowing skirt. These are clothes you could stay home in and still not fear a last-minute Zoom call.
The real driver for Dior is accessories, and on that front, there are new iterations of the classic bag shapes, including its hit woven book bag; thin leather belts closed with the "CD" hardware and woven flat Roman sandals were simple finishing touches. There were also a handful of looks done up in the Dior logo, as well as the ponchos emblazoned with the house name that will surely fly out of stores, pandemic or no.
I continue to be baffled by Dior's show casting, however: For a brand that has built an entirely new image on the backbone of feminism, I cannot understand why the models in the show aren't more diverse, particularly when it comes to age or body type. It feels distinctly unmodern to insist on the same old, boring beauty standards, across over 80 looks — especially as Chiuri's peers in the space are beginning to add in plus representation. She, and the brand, not only run the risk of coming to the party very late, they're about to be left behind altogether.
See the complete Dior Spring 2021 collection in the gallery below: