'Le Mythe Dior' Fall 2020 Couture Fashion Film & Review
BY LONG NGUYEN
In a short video montage that also served as a preview of the first digital presentation of haute couture fall In a short video montage that also served as a preview of the first digital presentation of haute couture fall collection by Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri said that the collaboration between artist and couturier in the post-world war years in France was essential despite all the socio-economic difficulties presented at the time in order to preserve and disseminate the savoir-faire that is the essence of couture, then and now. The role of art and intellect in culture and society, especially in times of crisis, has always been central to Dior, as a fashion house that was founded immediately in the post-war years were composing the new language of fashion and beauty were central tenets of the house to fathom reconstruction and prosperity on a society-wide basis, but first starting with fashion.
During the pandemic lockdown in Europe and in the U.S., Dior released the third season series of Dior Talks on the topic of the ‘Female Gaze’ that has featured a rotating lineup of guests including filmmakers, photographers and cultural critics such as Sarah Waiswa, Brigitte Lacombe, Laura Mulvay, Brigitte Niedermair, and Janette Beckman. True to this heritage of art and intellectual traditions, Chiuri commissioned Matteo Garrone, the Italian director famous for his hyperrealist depictions of harsh life far from the glamor of the bourgeois success in such films as Gomorrah, Dogman, Tale of Tales, and recently the remake of Pinnochio, to create a short fantasy film around an imaginary journey of twin porters carrying a trunk in the form of the Dior headquarters building on Avenue Montaigne going from the Atelier to bring miniatures dresses meticulously hand made by the team of seasoned craft experts to far away wooded hills peopled with nymphs, mermaids, and Narcissus gazing in the pond.
“Cinema is an art that is both creative and artisanal, a work of authorship and a chorale. It’s very similar to fashion’s savoir-faire,” said Chiuri.
“Le mythe Dior” is a fantasy short film with music composed by Paolo Buonvino where two porters carry a trunk of miniature couture clothes around a mythical woodland populated with nymphs and mermaids, who make their selections that the atelier then sews by hand into actual clothes for them to wear. But even this fantasy has a firm foothold in fashion history – a point of departure for the project was the Théatre de la mode exhibition that opened in the Louvre in early 1945 where Paris couture houses created the miniature mannequins due to lack of materials to promote fashion globally. And in these still uncertain times of the pandemic where there is again a sense of shortage of materials, labor and consumption, this Dior haute couture film addresses the current issues not by offering more selections of clothes and more enticements to resume consumption, but by offering the possibility of transformation through fashion; in this case, how a simple chiffon dress can elevate and more importantly can make even a Minotaur chase a woman through the dense woods wearing a large coat in black silk shantung with hand-pleated ruffles and fringe. That is the power of great clothes.
The real story of this Garrone film is a visual representation of one of the essences of the level of customer service only available to couture clients. The twin porters carry the collection with them represented in the way Dior sends the collection around the world, where clients can book appointments at the local boutiques very much how each of the nymphs chose their particular outfits among the looks inside the trunk. At the boutiques around the world or in Paris, the petit mains would take the specific measurements of the client’s body just like the way the twins measure the shoulders and back of the woman coming out of the white snail shell in order to hand make the blue hand-pleated chiffon Grecian dress specifically for her. The film then cross-fades back to the real world production at the atelier as full-size dresses are completed and then delivered to the clients, as the miniatures come alive and the creatures are now dressed in these fall clothes in real life sizes. This is the inherent process and the uniqueness of haute couture.
Chiuri focused on the A-line and hourglass silhouette with a wide flaring effect with strapless dresses all cinched at the waist like the white patchwork ecru lace and silk ‘Sonja’ dress, the gold winged back jacquard long fringed sleeveless ‘Dora’ dress, or the set embroidered lace ‘Maria Elena’ corset long dress in a nod to Monsieur Dior fall 1948 collection and perhaps also to the Spring 1953 ‘tulip’ proportions where these waist centered shapes dominated. In the tailleur category, the designer evolved the 1947 New Look into full-length flare double-breasted shantung ‘Leonor’ coat with long wide sleeves, the ‘Louise’ belt silk coat or the double-breasted ‘Alone’ skirt suit made in gold silk jacquard with folded pleats sleeves. For essential daywear, clients can choose the charcoal wool tweed New Look ‘Irene’ jacket with a slim skirt. Perhaps in recognition of the new economic reality, the collection is much more ornamented featuring less cumbersome embroideries than in the past – one outstanding work is the ‘Jacqueline’ Minotaur-like pattern inspired by the tarots cards of the French painter Jacqueline Lamba.
One drawback of this magnificent and creative film intended to advance haute couture fashion is the lack of more diverse casting, perhaps due to reasons of specific film production requirements during the period of confinement. The Dior myth is simply about the possibilities of fashion and its transformative powers and it is much needed now more than ever.