The fashion world still hasn’t quite made up its mind about Maria Grazia Chiuri’s tenure at Dior and it’s easy to see why.
We applaud the spectacular, the grand statement, even the faintly ridiculous. A game-changing makeover like the one Alessandro Michele drove at Gucci is easy to buy into. But a less showy makeover like Chiuri is driving forward at Dior is harder to get your head around.
Which is a shame because, as with so many female designers, Chiuri is creating looks that real women (albeit young, rich and usually beautiful ones) will want to wear.
But nagging doubts remain and the critics don’t seem ready to give her a big thumbs up yet, although few are prepared to actively criticise her.
In fact, after Tuesday’s show, many of them were actually kinder about Anthony Vaccarello’s latest effort at Saint Laurent. His homage to YSL himself and the late Pierre Bergé seemed to find plenty of fans, even though my immediate reaction was “WTF?” Yes, the blouse-shorts combos worked but those giant bubble mini dresses and feather concoctions… give me a break.
Dior, by contrast seemed rather tame, but refreshingly wearable. It was an extensive line-up of dresses and separates that the young and young at heart could add to their wardrobes without fear of ridicule.
You want jeans? Here are gently relaxed cuts with vertical panels, occasionally trimmed with eyelets. And here’s a blazer to match. You want casual tops? Try a striped long-sleeved tee with lizard motif, a slogan version, a knit with spider or heart motif (a recurring theme during fashion Month).
For jackets, you could try tailored and sharp, or quirkily fringed-cum-frayed in Chiuri’s favourite blue and white palette; tiny black and white check peacoat or parkas; ‘gorilla’ furs; or a leather blazer.
And if you’re looking for themes, you could try the 60s via some cute little dresses and short skirts.
There was decoration too, inspired by Nikki de Saint Phalle with an array of fantastic beasts and elevating slogans, and some details and pieces Chiuri obviously loves put in an appearance with the Dior beret, the sheer pleated overskirt and the slogan or logo edging/strap.
But what was very conspicuously missing were some of the pieces we were used to seeing on a Dior runway. Stiff daywear pieces for president’s wives and gala gowns that sweep down a red carpet or across a ballroom. Instead of the latter, for evening, Chiuri offered up party looks – the kind of party you or I would recognise – with sequin minis or maxis, lamé PJs, or or frilled sheers.
Of courses this being a luxury line, we can’t ignore the accessories and as that’s where Chiuri’s background lies, that’s even more reason to check them out. Those knee-length lace-up mesh boots look like an instant hit and being see-through also put the focus on power hosiery.
Meanwhile bags tapped into two popular approaches this Fashion Month, the first dressing up classic designs with seasonal motifs, prints and strap decoration and the second pushing the brand logo to the fore.
So while the collection may not have given us one of those Wow moments, it’s undeniable that it was packed full of commercial ideas and pieces, looks that fuel the Dior sales machine next season and will also inspire the high street. It may have been lacking in giant bubble dresses but I’ll give it a ‘like’. 👍