PARIS, FRANCE: The first look on the Dior Spring/Summer 2023 runway – a hooped petticoat and bralette in black raffia lace – was a prelude to the extraordinary silhouettes to follow. Inspired by a map of Paris from the House’s archives (one with Avenue Montaigne at its centre and printed on the back of a 1950s scarf), Maria Grazia Chiuri chose to showcase fashion’s ability to redefine the city of Paris and thus the women who navigate it daily. But to understand the creative director’s want to exhibit clothes that colour spaces of time within a city like Paris, you need first understand her SS23 muse: 16th century Italian noblewoman-come-French Queen Catherine de Medici.
Medici’s influence in court was a combination of her intelligence on all things political and sartorial. An early adopter of high-heeled shoes, Medici – who was the Queen of France from 1547-1559 – introduced corsets and Burano lace to Royal manufacturers.
Cue a show for the ages; crinolines, gloves, satin, yards of lace, baroque-curved heels with buckles to the knees, the list goes on. The corset, usually a constrictive device for those times, was styled loosely over bountiful blouses perhaps to represent Medici’s power over convention, and a woman’s right to move freely. In fact, despite the old-world muse, the collection felt very youthful.
“Maria Grazia Chiuri updates the corset by giving it a quasi-geometric shape that frames the bust,’ the show notes read. “Thus, the guêpière, sometimes hidden, sometimes visible, outlines a silhouette reminiscent of the wide skirts worn at the court of Catherine de Medici. An ancestral tradition, raffia coats adorned with floral and bird motifs, that is also revisited with Dior’s creativity and contemporary expertise.”
At the stage’s centre was an incredibly intricate grotto-like construction made entirely of cardboard by sculptor Eva Jospin. This is the second time Ms. Chiuri has worked with Jospin and it’s a partnership we’d love to see continue for some time.
The aforementioned map of Paris was aptly transposed onto a travelling trench, one many a fashion editor could use as she runs show to show. For when you look at a map of Paris, Avenue Montaigne is not in the centre, but rather further to the left. But on Tuesday afternoon – slightly raining and with a crowd of thousands inside and outside the show – the focal point in the French capital was Jardin des Tuileries. Just like Medici, Ms. Chiuri is an Italian in France with such power over fashion codes and thus the evolution of Paris itself. The city centre is always where she is.
See some show highlights here: