Maria Grazia Chiuri wants to make a couture jacket for her boss, Delphine Arnault. It’s the only way, she says, to illustrate the difference between a made-to-measure jacket and an off-the-rack version.
“I want her to feel that, because it’s something that really has the print of your body,” Chiuri said, after Dior’s new chief executive officer dropped in during fittings for a preview of her fall collection. “All the prints are different because all the bodies are different. I think this is the magnificent aspect of the couture tradition.”
Call it the ultimate in quiet luxury.
Chiuri’s designs this season were all about understated elegance, or what founder Christian Dior described as the “apparent simplicity” of designs made to fit like a glove. She shares his penchant for construction over embellishment, but with a contemporary regard for comfort, loosening waists where Dior cinched them in.
In their floorlength gowns, in shades of white, silver and burnished gold, her barefaced beauties had the aura of vestal virgins – or Joan of Arc, in the case of shaven-haired model Freja Rothmann, who wore a pleated gray dress with a closed neck.
The designs were informed by the goddesses of antiquity, echoed in the set designed by Italian artist Marta Roberti and embroidered by the Chanakya workshop in Mumbai.
With their pleats, cape sleeves and robe coats, these outfits were tailor made for today’s patron saints of stealth wealth: women like Gwyneth Paltrow or the Olsen sisters who embody the “old money” aesthetic. Does anything spell privilege like an ivory cashmere coat over a white dress?
There were stunning evening gowns embroidered with crystal beads or thousands of tiny pearls, but Chiuri also offered options for day, with blinding white cotton poplin shirts, or Bar jackets tossed over a plain long dress or skirt. “The idea is that it’s very pure, very elegant,” she said.
She pointed to a vintage-style ivory silk dress with needlepoint and drawn thread embroidery, a technique called “sfilato” in Italian that is centuries old and in danger of disappearing. “It’s not show-off, this kind of embroidery,” Chiuri noted. Yet it’s priceless.
“These pieces are unique. You can’t find this kind of work elsewhere, honestly,” she said. “It’s something that you feel on your body, more than you see with your eyes.”