Art for Fashion’s sake!

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.”

The clue’s in the blog not the look!

FRIENDS Anita, Fran and Lynne have Fashion coursing through their veins. They may spot Dior DNA, in abundance, in Maria Chiuri’s Ready to Wear collection, shown in Rodin’s Paris museum, this week.

It wasn’t easy for me to find many clues. Maybe this black and white ensemble has a suggestion of his legacy in the darted waist, floaty skirt, peplum and tailored cuffs.

 

PosDior

But here’s the rub: regardless of whether the critics like the clothes or see work as credibly linked to Dior’s back catalogue, sales are significantly up since Chiuri took over as artistic director.

Christian Dior Couture posted 2017 half-year sales revenue of just over €1 billion, up 17 percent from €893 million for the same period one year ago at constant exchange rates.

Already the avowed Feminist, Chiuri, has succeeded in attracting a much younger millennial audience — set to soon account for a large proportion of luxury spending — and her designs are reportedly selling far more briskly than the more critically-acclaimed conceptual work of her predecessor Raf Simons.

 

FemDiorCritics and consumers are held in the thrall of  a direct-to-consumer reality where longstanding media and retail channels are being increasingly disintermediated.*

Show reviews were once scrutinised by wholesale buyers who curated clothing for consumers. Now questions are being asked about whether opinions of critics or buyers matter, when brands can connect directly with consumers online and via their own stores.

Fashion marketeers know that what you deliver is not only the product but the story about the product.

*The direct connection between social media communicators/bloggers and consumers and Fashion followers.