Dior designer Maria Grazia Chiuri, whose last ready-to-wear collection posed the question “Why Are There No Great Women Artists?” on a slogan tee, set out to answer it with her spring/summer 2018 haute couture show shown Monday in Paris, with a tribute to surrealist Leonor Fini, the 20th century female artist known for her depiction of powerful women.
This collection, Grazia Chiuri wrote in the show notes, is also a tribute to the “spiritual power of today’s women.”
It was a departure from her previous outings, if not spiritually then certainly sartorially, as she abandoned the ethereal elements of her enchanted forest first collection and the starry sky of her second for the monochrome palette that has played heavily in her ready-to-wear. (The bold coloring recalled her last ready-to-wear collection, which incorporated motifs from another female artist, Niki Saint Phalle.)
The all black-and-white palette – the color of the “blackout” at the Golden Globes contrasted with white, the symbolic color of the American suffragist movement, was maybe just coincidental. But the symbolism, with the models walking out and “breaking free” from cages that lifted dramatically from the runway, cannot be overlooked from the designer that has staked her claim on brand feminism.
All that power translated into feathery light capes, and a continuation of the sheer skirt trend. Velvet gowns and capes were particularly strong, and would have been fabulous additions to the Globes carpet. As actresses have now turned back to color, hopefully there will still be opportunities for these pieces to shine this awards season.
Sitting front row, Emily Blunt sang the praises of the Time’s Up movement. “I think it’s an extraordinary time,” she said. “You realize that once women are given a voice they will use it and use it in a very proactive and productive way. Right now I feel that we are all engulfed in flames with everything that is going on. It’s just a really hot topic and the weight of history is behind it, but I think things will actually neutralize it the most positive way,” she said. “Those that are still having to duke it out in this industry have a voice now.”
On the runway, the symbolism was at times heavy-handed, literally, with one tromp l’oeil gown “holding” a cape with gloves — a look similar to a Schiaparelli one from two seasons ago. Many pieces will be instantly recognizable, with black- and-white checkerboard likely to trend soon.
As The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” played over the last looks, the lyrics took on new meaning: “I’m a million different people from one day to the next, I can’t change my mold no, no.” But Time’s Up, and times are changing.