Dior Haute Couture show in Paris creates a unique blend of fashion, art and craft
by Rahul KumarFeb 09, 2022
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Sunena V MajuPublished on : Mar 15, 2023
Adding to the drama of avant-garde clothing and haute couture designs that have intrigued religious fashion followers, for long, luxury houses have started transitioning every fashion show into an artistic performance on the runway. Inviting no complaints from us, this collaboration between the art world and the fashion industry has given us some of the most memorable shows in the last few months. Whether it be the robot dogs at Coperni’s show or the ‘upside-down’ creations by Viktor & Rolf or Dante's Inferno-inspired Schiaparelli show where taxidermy animal-heads were sewn onto dresses.
Even for design enthusiasts who don’t fancy the allure of clothing, but are intrigued by runway designs, it has been nothing short of a surreal journey. Designers and artists, who were earlier boxed under categories of art, architecture, interior design and product design, are now blurring these lines between disciplines, experimenting across the board and the results are nothing less than a scenographic spectacle. The most recent collaboration between visual arts and fashion, we witnessed Valkyrie Miss Dior by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos for Dior Autumn-Winter 2023-2024 at the Jardin des Tuileries, in Paris, France.
The collection—another marvel with feminist messaging by creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri—draws from the history of the French luxury house. By holding on to the modern approach of the brand under Chiuri's lead, with manual savoir-faire and traditional artisanship, the new collection exhibits some of the initial patterns of Maison, created in 1947 by Christian Dior, who found a muse in his sister Ginette, also known as Catherine or Miss Dior. A florist, and a woman of strong beliefs who joined the French Resistance and survived a concentration camp, Miss Dior is nothing less than a female icon. For Vasconcelos, creating the monumental site-specific textile structure for the show, Miss Dior became a female figure worthy of a tribute. This paved the way for the 24 metres long and seven metres tall, entirely handcrafted artwork titled Valkyrie Miss Dior.
Using 20 fabrics from the Autumn/Winter 2023-2024 collection, Vasconcelos created different metamorphic shapes that come together to act as a whole. In a tentacular manner, the site-specific art engulfs the space with techniques of sewing, knitting, embroidery, and crochet. Within the magical aesthetics of textures, glitter and craftsmanship, the audience was seated on 'islands' created in between, imparting a feeling of being trapped in a fantastical dream. The models walked in this surrealist setting, extending a dialogue between floral patterns, colour, and light.
For a collection that was mostly black-toned, the scenography of the runway set a contrasting tone. Fashion houses generally restrain from using a mix of colours, prints and textures for the runway design as it might distract the audience from the collection. But here, the contrast is what emphasises the designs. This isn’t the first time that Dior has collaborated with an artist to design their runway. A similar approach defined Dior Haute Couture 2022 where Kyiv-based artist Olesia Trofymenko’s work formed the backdrop for the show. In this repetition of the fashion house’s collaboration with artists, especially women, Chiuri seems to consistently present a new statement that transcends the normalcy of fashion.
Talking about the collaboration, Vasconcelos shares, “Fashion is an important part of my life. For those, like me, who started showing their work at Lisbon’s Manobras in May 1994, this collaboration with Dior is a dream come true. I developed this installation not only to integrate the fabrics but also to fill up the space, interacting with the models and the public. This interaction gives meaning to the whole project, exploring the triple relationship between monumental sculpture, human bodies and inhabited clothing, almost like a kind of sculptural dance. Creating a connection between two worlds—visual arts and fashion—which fit into a new dimension, now embodied by Valkyrie Miss Dior.”
Building on her interest in stories of women, whose lives set examples, Vasconcelos imagined Catherine Dior as a Valkyrie, for Valkyrie Miss Dior. The Valkyries series is inspired by Norse mythology figures, where Valkyries are deities who serve the god Odin. Vasconcelos earlier collaborated with Dior in 2013 where she used 1,650 bottles of the brand's perfume to create a massive bow which became part of the Primae Collection. The artwork was exhibited at the Grand Palais in Paris, the Shanghai Sculpture Park in Shanghai, China, the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing and the Portuguese Embassy in Paris. In 2019, she performed an intervention using the Lady Dior bag, in which she inserted LED lights to simulate the beating of a human heart, in conjunction with the fourth edition of Dior Lady Art.
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