Four years on, the ripple effect of Maria Grazia Chiuri’s tenure as Christian Dior’s first female creative director has proven to stay. The spring/summer 2021 show at Paris Fashion Week was, in essence, visual poetry. Born of the life and work of women who wielded the written word: authors, poets and intellectuals, the collection saw writerly traces in the form of a classic Sontagian white shirt, or Virginia Woolf’s penchant for outlandish florals.
Staged in the hallowed halls of Paris’s Jardin des Tuileries, the venue was transformed into a ‘cathedral of poetry’, complete with 18 backlit light-boxes modelled to resemble stained glass windows. Backdropped by the stirring choral performance of ‘Sangu di Rosa’, the voices of Sequenza 93 seemed to echo even for audiences watching through a screen. The collage works of Florence-based visual artist, Lucia Marcucci, also found their place in the space, appearing also in the accompanying film by director Alina Marazzi. Marucci’s use of 1960s advertising imagery and visually arresting collages mirrored the cacophony that was the collection.
“Our poetry is shock resistant,” Marazzi declares in the film. Indeed it was—the choral performance by vocal group Sequenza 93 took no breaks when it came to the aural quality of the show. And neither did Chiuri with her heavy use of prints—paisley was the dominant message, taking the form of ankle-length tunics to flowing robes. At times vertical striped shirt dresses and tissue-thin chiffon numbers took the runway, but it was the organised chaos that stole the show. Jackets from autumn/winter 1957 originally made for Japan resurfaced as unassuming reiterations of the Bar suit. For Chiuri, it seems collaging is the way forward this season—not just in the statements of Marucci, or the cinematic patchwork by Marazzi, but in the assembly of female minds and voices that came together.