Spring Summer 2018 Paris
Suzy Menkes – Niki de Saint Phalle was a painter more than pistols than roses. Thus, its knockout colors and monumental creations seem at first too hard for the image that Dior.
The merit of combining with successes both opposites corresponds to Maria Grazia Chiuri and her spring / summer 2018 parade.
In principle, their association was not easy: the founder Christian Dior was a romantic designer captivated by the beauty of flowers; and the artist, who was abused by her father, angry and anguished, described -according to the symbols of the tarot cards- how she had to deal with “dragons, witches, magicians” before finding “the angel of temperance”
Fashion has advanced a lot in this millennium in the task of catching and overcoming their own dragons, hence the posters that were in the backstage encouraging the models to fight their dilemmas by going to a professional. Such a campaign would have been unthinkable a few years ago.
And who would have imagined that we would see a Dior show in which the models would wear flat-media net boots, nothing that would prevent them from running to their freedom?
“Now it’s different, I was also passive when I was young, but I think we live another moment,” said the designer. “As a child, my mother wanted to see in me her own idea of a woman; but somehow, in the end we carry it inside. ”
Since she took command of Dior almost a year ago, Maria Grazia has followed the same path in her fashion with clothes that fit well in the life of today’s woman.
How do you then eat this collection about Niki de Saint Phalle? Do those tarot cards that Dior loved so much match the angry and violent version of the artist? Will your furious and vibrant colors work on Dior’s clothes? Did the dismembered figures of the artist appear in the parade?
Effectively, they appeared. This effect created the mirrors that were arranged fragmented on the marquee of the parade and on the catwalk. Maybe they also inspired the bright and colorful night looks, pieces very worked by dressmakers with applications of mother-of-pearl and crystal beads.
But artistic inspiration is based, of course, on the absorption of concepts. Maria Grazia did not take the performances directly to her fashion, but she used them as inspiration.
Seeing mood board, so loaded with graphic material, I understood the immense work that the garments were wearing since even the yellow stripes, the dark red hearts or the symbols on the skirts were intricate embroideries or meticulous applications.
“This panel is like my diary for the last three months, because when we were working on the exhibition [Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, still in progress at the Museum of Decorative Ares in Paris], I came across this photo by Niki de Saint Phalle climb to a camel, and also with a letter he wrote to Mr. Marc Bohan, where he said: ‘Thank you for the design you made for me’. So I found this relationship between Niki de Saint Phalle and Marc Bohan very powerful. ”
Maria Grazia talked about who was a designer in Dior from the late 50’s to 1989, and also about the semibiographic film Daddy (1973), in which Niki de Saint Phalle reels an imagined memory of her intense childhood.
If the parade was nourished by all this energy, where was the exuberant sensuality of the artist, her captivating colors and her daring transparency? Nowhere; because, of course, the designer must focus on creating clothes with the Dior spirit suitable for their clientele.
However, we are in another era and Maria Grazia is now addressing her daughter’s generation.
I asked Natalia Vodianova, who wore a dress trimmed with feathers, which meant Dior for her. “Women’s Empowerment,” he told me, demonstrating that Maria Grazia’s message has permeated at least part of the current fashion world.