For guests at the Dior Spring Summer 2019 runway show at the most recent Paris Fashion Week, the experience was nothing short of magical, almost ethereal.
A dark, expansive, square space. Petals falling like rain from the sky onto the runway. Professional ballet dancers in exquisite, earthy costumes performing a custom-choreographed modern dance as models wearing the new SS19 collection strode purposefully amongst them.
The result was as emotive as Dior’s first female creative director intended. Her collections are always far more than just a bunch of beautiful clothes; instead, each is designed to send a socio-political message. This was a fashion show disguised as theatre.
Watch a highlight clip of the runway dance performance here.
Likewise, there was a far more to prepare for this show that met the eye; so much of happening behind the scenes that’s as fascinating as the finished runway product. For example, each of the dancers’ outfits was hand-painted to feature tapestry-like illustrations based around the four elements: water, earth, air and fire.
“We composed the designs to correspond to the anatomy and the body energy,” says one of the experts in Chiuri’s atelier, before highlighting the chakra wheel in the centre of each one-piece leotard pointing to the seven chakras of the body.
“The effect we’re trying to achieve is almost transparent as if we’d painted directly onto the body, [like] body painting or tattooing.”
Watch as the stunning costumes are designed here.
A video of the dancers rehearsing in a stark studio in Tel Aviv under 47-year-old acclaimed Israeli choreographer Sharon Eyal is just as intriguing.
Men and women practice their fluid modern dance movements in gender-neutral training garb (men and women in black and skin-coloured leotards, socks covering all their bare feet rather than ballet slippers). This is a side of elite performance the public is rarely allowed to see.
Watch behind-the-scenes as the dancers rehearse here.
A chance meeting between Chiuri and Eyal affected the designer so much, she based her next major collection around the latter’s life work.
“When I met you in real life, I had an idea that I’d like to create a collection about dance, about freedom,” says Chiuri in the video of them talking backstage below. While their chosen artistic outlets are very different, it’s clear the pair share a chemistry and feel a great deal in common.
“Dance is always like layers on top of layers, like clothes,” Eyal tells Chiuri. Her reply: “This collection has layers of tulle, layers of colour on top of another colour. There is also the idea of fragility [in the collection]. And dancers are fragile but strong [too].”
These four videos are a rare quartet that when layered together tell a beautiful story of fashion colliding with dance. The fact you can also shop the collection that’s woven into the work come next February is an exquisite bonus. See the Dior Spring Summer 2019 runway collection in full here.
Watch Maria Grazier Chiuri talk with Sharon Eyal backstage here.