Courtesy of Dior by Teresa Cioca
While the rest of the fashion industry hit pause on IRL shows in favor of digital presentations, Dior stuck to the runway. Kind of. When it comes to resort season, designers typically produce its vacation-ready runways in historic cities like colorful Marrakesh, Cuba, (or, well, Calabasas), and Dior continued the practice despite a worldwide pandemic. The Parisian house displayed its cruise 2021 collection with no shortage of production value: The scene was set in beautiful Puglia at the Piazza del Duomo in Lecce. Models walked the runway at a social distance. A theatrical stage was built, a full, and fully-masked orchestra played and singers sang, all for an exclusively digital audience who streamed the show around the world.
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Creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri’s choice to pay homage to her home country is poetic. With Italy once being the epicenter of the coronavirus, Dior’s quiet return to “normal” breathes life back into the city, reconnecting Chiuri to one of the true purposes of fashion missing during isolation: bringing people together. “During this period, I sought to give collective efforts a new dimension. Despite the disadvantages of distance, bringing a different perspective to our daily lives has given us strength and imagination,” she said in a press release.
Inspirations from the Puglia region run deep throughout the collection. The city’s history with bohemia, agriculture, and arts and crafts is literally weaved into bodices, skirts, and sheer overlays. Wheat stalk motifs are heavily used on Dior gowns. Pastoral headscarves sit atop every model’s head, a nod to the beautiful countryside (and something sure to be an influencer-backed accessory). Traditional Puglian embroidery was utilized in an aim to protect its living heritage. Specifically, the Tombolo, a 15th century style of lace popularized in Southern Italy, is featured on dresses and made in collaboration with Marilena Sparasci, one of the last craftsperson to practice and teach this technique.
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No stranger to making a political statement, Chiuri gave the city’s intimate relationship with luminarie, a traditional festival of lights, her usual radical twist. Among the technicolor lights that dressed the piazza flashed the words “We rise by lifting others, Be a builder of unguilt,” and other powerful assertions. This echoes the same sentiments Chiuri has displayed in previous collections, having collaborated with feminist artists and activists in the past. Chiuri also enlisted choreographer Sharon Eyal to choreograph A troupe of dancers, who performed a contemporary interpretation of Pizzica, a folk dance set to Salento.
Each thoughtful moment in the collection all comes down to one thing: Chiuri’s wish to connect the past to the present, while honoring the region of Puglia. And the city was grateful for being centered in the conversation, with locals praising Dior in an Instagram post for highlighting their hometown’s ancestry.
For Dior’s resort collection, the digital world is its stage, even if those of us watching were sitting at home.
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