After a stunningly-successful show in Paris this January, Dior has decided to take its Spring Haute Couture runway show to the United Arab Emirates, specifically at Dubai’s Safa Park on March 18.
The show made waves when it debuted in Paris, not just because it featured acrobats hung suspended over the catwalk. The circus-inspired collection was unveiled on Christian Dior’s 114th birthday that the haute couture collection was unveiled.
It pays homage to the iconic couturier, placing the world of circus at the heart of the show (Christian Dior was renowned for his love of the Cirque d‘Hiver). The harlequin-style set sat within a large big-top tent, tucked away in the gardens of the Robin Museum. Models walked the harlequin catwalk under a slew of acrobats, at times hanging over their heads. Almost 70 models walked in the show, many wearing glittery skullcaps fastened under their chin (think Amelia Earhart meets Pierrot—the famous French mime outfit).
Speaking to reporters after the show, Chiuri said that the circus is comparable to fashion week, “The circus is a world of its own, which passes from town to town, changing each one a little as it goes – a bit like fashion week.” She went on to admit that, “every look as its own personality, just like circus characters, brave, funny, happy and sad”.
The French label has a long-running history with the circus. Both John Galliano and Bill Gaytten made use of the jester while they were at the house, but it is the Pierrot character which seems to both delight and fascinate artists and designers alike. Pablo Picasso and Jean-Antoine Watteau painted the iconic character, Jun Takahashi referenced Pierrot’s darker character in his Spring 2016 undercover collection, and he’s been referenced in shows as varied as Jeremy Scott and Vivienne Westwood.
Of course, another one of the key themes to this year’s spring-summer show was feminism. Maria Grazia Chiuri again put it front and center (Chiuri is the first woman ever to lead the French label) calling upon the exclusively female circus troupe, Mimbre, to perform. Previously, Dior shows have included collaborations with women writer, musicians, and choreographers.
The performance – which will be coming to Dubai in March – transformed the event from humble catwalk show to a full-on spectacle (which is reason, perhaps, that the show is going on the road this year).
Chiuri said she was amazed by how inclusive the world of circus was. She said that it offered, “A possible equality, where beauty, origin, gender, and age are no longer important. Only technique and daring matter.”
It was the notion of inclusion that inspired the new collection’s jewelry—necklaces and bracelets of interlocking gold hands. Speaking after the show, Chiuri admitted that acrobats “put their life in the hands of another, you really have to trust each other,” she said.
From a fashion perspective, it was the Pierrot ruff collars and veiled bonnets that stole the show. Ruff collars have been reimagined in extra-large, tulle or two-tone versions. It’s the perfect modern-day appropriation of this Victorian fashion staple. Elsewhere, the bonnet—which by now has become somewhat of a catwalk staple accessory of Maria Grazia Chiuri—this time featured a veil, complete with rhinestones.
Elsewhere, there were more popular takes on the circus theme; namely the big top tent. Chiuri’s Silk bandage roll gowns and architectural tutus went down a storm with Dior’s haute couture clientele and reporters alike.
Peter Philips – the creative and image director of Dior’s makeup line—was also involved. He was responsible for transforming each of the models into a glamorous ode to the most integral character to the circus universe, the clown. Models walked with eyes defined in black liner for a look that was at the same time graphic and sophisticated, and classy (not clowny).
Chiuri also references Dior’s 2019 cruise collection, in that the animal kingdom was well represented. Horses and elephant motifs were rife, either printed or embroidered on shirts under the slogan, ‘Dior Dream Parade’.
The Paris show brought out the celebrities, too. The likes Karlie Kloss, Monica Bellucci, and Bianca Jagger made an appearance in the front row. Here’s hoping the Dubai debut of Dior’s haute couture collection brings the region’s own biggest celebrities to the show.