It’s a testament to how unrelenting the international fashion calendar is that Maria Grazia Chiuri is today presenting her second major runway collection for Dior in as many weeks. Late last month, she took to the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens to present a remarkably extravagant Cruise 2022 collection. Now, in July, she is back in Paris for Couture Fashion Week, showcasing Christian Dior’s Haute Couture Fall / Winter 2021-2022 collection. There’s a marked difference that has taken place in that fortnight: the presence of a front row.

That’s right, after more than 14 months of socially distanced, digitally streamed runways, the French maison has welcomed an IRL crowd again. How to celebrate such a milestone moment? For Chiuri, the answer was obvious: a celebration of tactility. The walls of the temporary structure erected in the garden of the Musèe Rodin were lined with intricate embroidery, designed by the artist Eva Josplin and created by Chanakyua School of Craft, an Indian institution that supports women’s financial empowerment through traditional craftsmanship.

Dior
PARIS, FRANCE – JULY 05: A model walks the runway during the Christian Dior Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2021/2022 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 05, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Peter White/Getty Images)

That focus on materials—touchability, as well as wearability—continued throughout the collection. There were cosy, voluminous tweed capes (worn with matching tweed caps, naturally), intricate floral murals printed on silk separates, cropped velvet Bar Jackets, hand-braided silk evening gowns, and dramatically pleated dresses. The shoes were either delicate netted slip-ons, or chunky laser-cut leather brogues, or knee-skimming tweed boots. Each piece was a love letter to the craftsmanship of artisans—many of whom found their livelihood decimated by COVID-19.

As for the aforementioned front row? It was jam-packed with Dior muses. Cara Delevingne was there, as were Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain, Suki Waterhouse, and Florence Pugh. “I think for the people working around the tables at our ateliers again, there was a different, incredible kind of energy in working towards this show,” Chiuri said in a post-show interview. Which is shorthand for: fashion shows are back, baby! May we never lose them again.

Dior
PARIS, FRANCE – JULY 05: A model walks the runway during the Christian Dior Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2021/2022 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 05, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Peter White/Getty Images)
Dior
PARIS, FRANCE – JULY 05: A model walks the runway during the Christian Dior Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2021/2022 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 05, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Peter White/Getty Images)
Dior
PARIS, FRANCE – JULY 05: Chai Maximus walks the runway during the Christian Dior Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2021/2022 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 05, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Peter White/Getty Images)
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