After travelling what felt like a world away from the graffitied sprawl of Paris – although, it was in fact a racecourse, barely out of the town centre, but surrounded by woodland to give it an otherworldly feel – Paris Fashion Week began in earnest with Dior’s Spring 2020 show.
Catwalk attendees bewildered by the location traipsed through an underpass and sandy footpaths (which were not a good mix with black suede boots but fine if your footwear adhered to this season’s major movement of the beige aesthetic) to a wooden clad cube.
We jostled with photographers snapping the chic set in full Dior outfits (J’Adior slingback pumps and denim logo’d saddle bags were the accessories of choice while nipped in Bar jackets and full tulle skirts were the look of the moment), through the serious black suited security guards scanning our bags and entered into a pitch black space centred around a fairytale woodland set with spotlights streaming down onto a miniature arboretum. With a catwalk circling the plantation of trees, it was clear there was going to be a bucolic mood to the collection.
Maria Grazia Chiuri, creative director of Dior since 2016 and the first woman to head up the house, always makes a statement with her shows. Whether that’s putting the words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie onto t-shirts (“We should all be feminists”) or asking “Why have there been no great women artists” and reminding us that “Sisterhood is powerful.” Today it was a more peaceful protest with none of the slogan t-shirts that have become waitlist worthy items, but there was just as urgent a message.
Inspired in part by Christian Dior’s sister, Catherine, the original Miss Dior, and her role as a gardener both literally and figuratively, Chiuri translated the crisis of our current ecological situation through the medium of fashion. Through her treescape, Chiuri created an “inclusive garden” and the diversity of skin tones on the catwalk, which – duh – reflects real life, still stands out in the fashion landscape for it’s inclusivity in an age of colour blindness.
The natural mood segued from the set to the clothes… burlap short suits and rompers in jute brown (which made a divine contrast with cornflower blue cotton shirting); jaunty straw hats, perfect for keeping the sun off your face after a morning in the allotment; a floor sweeping raffia gown that caught the light and shimmered as much as any silk; grey washed denim in worker-style jackets and slouchy wide leg jeans; a selection of tie-dye rainbow pieces… And then? A cavalcade of gowns embroidered with floral motifs – the most beautiful of which was a dandelion clock atop miniature flowers, all ready to sprinkle their seeds.
In Milan, Gucci presented it’s first carbon neutral catwalk, pledging to offset the emissions caused by staging such a mega show (YES!) but then caused a stir by straightjacket inspired pieces that belittled mental health struggles and prompted a silent model protest on the runway (VERY NO.) When will fashion get it right?
Today, Dior – a mega brand unlike the agile new generation in London that are sustainability natives – moved in the right direction with thoughtfulness and good intentions. There is still work to be done on size and disability representation within fashion as a whole but GLAMOUR celebrates #OneSmallChange and every baby step is to be applauded.
The atmospheric tree-scape was created with a company that makes urban gardens with a goal of cultivating inclusiveness and each tree is going to be planted post show – no frivolous props, these, each tree had their own QR code so you could see where they were going to end up. Flourishing and going some way to make the change we are all waiting for.