PFW SS20: Dior

SAVING THE EARTH and the rallying words of 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg have been looming ripe in our daily cultural vernacular. They were certainly firmly etched in the mind of Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri, who presented her most environment-centric collection yet. From a green-fingered muse in the form of Catherine Dior, the sister of Monsieur Dior himself, or the nurturing figures of gaia and the female gardener, to Monte Verità, a 20th century Swiss commune of avant-garde artists whose residents included the likes of Isadora Duncan, Anni and Josef Albers, and Jean Arp, Chiuri made manifest her multiple inspirations in a collection that was lush in botanical imagery and arboreal embroidery.

Earthy, whimsical and romantic, Chiuri’s collection reimagined her signature silhouettes for Dior — waisted bar jackets, full skirts, wispy angel-like gowns — in a motley of gardening-appropriate motifs, colours and shapes. Wispy, ethereal gowns were screenprinted with flora and fauna reminiscent of vintage-era botanical illustrations.

Bar jackets constructed in straw-coloured burlap with black floral or check detailing were worn alongside blue gardener’s shirts and buoyant skirts woven in floral-embroidered raffia. Chiuri’s vision for a garden of delights was also expressed in the playful striped rompers and gingham mini-dresses that were styled with woven bucket hats, perfect for a summery jaunt.

Of course, florals for spring are to be expected, especially in a collection devoted to nature. However, perhaps in a homage to the free spirits who lived in Monte Verità, Chiuri also fused traditional romantic florals with something more aligned to festival culture and pop bohemia: tie-dye. A rainbow prism of colours formed the blueprint for numerous silhouettes, such as the utilitarian boiler suit, loose trousers and flowing skirts, which were also constructed in a more sombre grey-and-black tie-dye.

If Chiuri’s nature-consciousness only informed her collection in metaphorical way, it certainly was made literal in its set design. The Longchamp hippodrome in Paris’ Bois de Boulogne was transformed in collaboration with Coloco, a landscaping collective committed to incorporating greenery into urban settings, into a dense, verdant garden.

In this urban garden were trees of diverse origins, which will then be replanted in several long-term projects across Paris, in an act meant to symbolize how we need to work collectively in order to cultivate and preserve nature, and consequently, our future.

How Chiuri’s collection will translate into true sustainability remains to be seen; nonetheless, it is a first step forward in the long struggle of Dior, and by extension, the industry the behemoth house represents, towards environmental sustainability.

by Kay Ean Leong