Not just the show we wanted, but the show we needed, Maria Grazia-Chiuri debuted her SS20 collection for Christian Dior on Tuesday, September 24th at the Paris-Longchamp hippodrome.
Chiuri has always used her platform at Dior to convey political statements, but this time the Italian designer demanded change. With reference to Maison Dior's longterm connection with gardens, the sustainability-focussed show was set in a recreated forest. In collaboration with Coloco, a team of landscapers, botanists and gardeners, this season's set was populated by 164 endangered trees that will soon be planted around Paris.
To say this comes at "a good time" would be an oxymoron given that we are facing environmental crisis. However, it seems only right that Chirui would debut an action-demanding collection the day after sixteen-year-old activist and environmentalist, Greta Thunberg, gave her speech at the 2019 UN climate action summit. Not to mention, the majority of the models wore their hair in two front braids - a hairstyle that may have come to affiliate with Thunberg.
Though she may or may have not been inspiration for the designer, Christian Dior's sister, Catherine, definitely was. The Miss of Miss Dior, Catherine not only survived capture and torture in a German concentration camp during the second world war, but she was also the first woman to receive a florist license.
"The message in this collection is the idea of taking care of everyone, of the world we live in, just as Catherine Dior and other women in history took care of their gardens. All modern ideas of feminism talk about humans and nature and bringing these two worlds closer together again," Chiuri tells British Vogue.
Amid the array of trees, the first model emerged wearing a straw-cloche hat, combat boots and a neutral striped jumpsuit with a workman's collard shirt underneath. Chuiri's Dior is no stranger to florals, but the nature-inspired motifs transmitted a different, powerful message that bore no similarity to the dainty, traditional flowers we're so familiar with. The beauty of natural growth echoed throughout the room and through the collection. From the loose silhouettes, neutral colour palette, and subtle tributes to the natural world, the sense of coming back to the raw, natural and bare necessities was illustrated in the most romantic way possible.
"The idea was not just to think about the garden as inspiration for pretty prints for clothes; that's not appropriate for the times we are living in. I know the history of the house of Dior very well, so it was about creating a dialogue with the present. Right now, we are all too aware of the importance of sustainability, and the state of the planet," Chuiri explained to British Vogue post show.
Workman's trousers and jumpsuits were depicted in desaturated tye dye. Houndstooth, stripes and large check patterns were seen on wide lapel jackets, two-pieces and mini dresses. Espadrilles, roped gladiator shoes and gardening-like boots were paired with every look - alongside updated versions of the Book tote and Lady Dior handbag. And of course, it wouldn't be a Chiuri-Dior show without her infamous embroidered mesh dresses with dainty bralettes underneath and suit jackets over maxi skirts - reminiscent of the 1947 New Look. The collection was effortless - with a somewhat boho aesthetic and featuring a slight nod to "utility-chic", Dior's SS20 show signified growth amidst the destruction of our world.
It seems as though the time has finally come. Could it really be that the fashion industry is finally taking sustainability seriously? Shows by Gucci, Burberry and Dior Homme were all carbon-neutral. Christopher Kane's SS20 theme was Eco-Sexual. Marni's SS20 collection featured pieces upcyled from plastic water bottles. Prada showcased simple, timeless pieces in response to the fashion industry's excessive waste for their SS20 collection. Prada, alongside Versace, Michael Kors, Gucci and Tom Ford (among others) joined the growing list of brands that will no longer use genuine fur early this year.
Though given that its 2019, is this something we can really congradulate? Fashion is one of the major polluting industries in the world and it's critical that this changes. The planet is dying, people are dying, and enough is enough. The severity of our global conditions is almost beyond repair, but not quite. There is still time, but we must act now - and fast.
By: Isabel de Carteret