LEONOR Fini, the avant-garde artist who Christian Dior exhibited in the gallery he ran in early 1930s France, before becoming a Fashion designer, is the inspiration behind his label’s current haute couture collection.
Surrealism and the dreams of women are appropriate for Dior’s new Maestra, Maria Grazia Chiuri’s 2018 Spring designs. Chiuri is said to be fascinated by how Fini used clothes and extravagant headdresses to “produce” her identity.
“She used her image to be regal and powerful. Surrealism speaks about dreams and the unconscious, and often about women’s bodies. It’s very close to fashion,” Chiuri tells us.
She is using Surrealist symbolism—the black-and-white checkerboard runway, and the bird cages and faux plaster casts suspended over it, to frame her collection. Stephen Jones delicate eye masks are in homage to Peggy Guggenheim. Guggenheim also exhibited Fini in her 1943 show, ‘Exhibition of 31 Women Artists.’
Speaking of the difficulty women have to be taken seriously, Chiuri comments on why solemn black is chosen by designers and the MeToo campaigners. However her feminism allows her to move on, “We have to think about dreaming,” she suggests. “In a way, it [haute couture] is our business. But if you never dream, you don’t think that something negative can change.”