Our Top Picks from the Dior SS18 Haute Couture Collection

Maria Grazia Chiuri’s SS18 haute couture collection as artistic director of Dior Couture appears to float somewhere between dream and reality, imagination and realization. The designer brings a fresh breath of imagination to the collection, conjuring an otherworldliness and use of trompe l’oeil and optical illusion with fabric, form and flow.

Maria Grazia Chiuri was inspired by Surrealism in her predominantly black and white collection sprinkled with illusion and the occasional elements of surprise.

‘Féerie’ | Woven horsehair cage over black velvet ribbon-embroidered skirt.

In that vein, generous pleats on a white evening dress are etched in black like the pages of a book, while caging, is a recurring motif, is transformed into a black mesh fabric that hugs the body and underscores transparency as silvery fishnet mingles with the density of velvet.

Tuxedo suit with silhouetted lapels and tulle shirt with tie, inspired by the Porte Maillot design from spring-summer 1949.

Above all, it’s the charisma of the artist Leonor Fini that defines this collection’s strict yet radical attitude. Leonor Fini, who left Italy for Paris in the ’30’s, held her first exhibition in Christian Dior’s gallery and befriended the designer from that moment onward. Whenever she made one of her phantasmagorical appearances, she often wore Dior.

‘Ange Blanc’ | Ensemble composed of a cape and dress embroidered with flowers and feathers, woven ivory horsehair cage.

Leonor Fini was the incarnation of the then-revolutionary idea that one must always remain independent and reinvent oneself as a representation of all possible realities.

‘LISE DEHARME’ Ottoman Bar tuxedo and ivory embroidered tulle shirt

She used clothing to define herself and set her own stage, in public as in private: at once influential, severe and elegant, she struck poses inspired by portraits of men from the Renaissance, by the constant interaction of art and life, and the blend of the natural and artificial. These marvels of haute couture came into being in a dimension suspended between dream and reality.

‘Les Amants’ | Lips-motif bustier dress with a millefeuille of sun-ray pleated gray tulle.

The same applies to the daywear for which Christian Dior had such a knack, and notably to shapes reinterpreted using traditional men’s wear fabrics. Maria Grazia Chiuri draws on these as inspiration in a series of suits that recalibrates Dior’s curves to today’s tastes, paired with skirts of multiple contrasts.

‘Dominos Blancs’ | Ivory satin cuir coat with domino intarsia, satin cuir skirt, and white dotted tulle shirt with tie.

Ever faithful to the Surrealist tradition of deconstructed forms, accessories make their presence felt in a whimsical way: a fishnet stocking veils a sandal, while gloves clutch an ankle. It’s this way of seeing and being seen, with a point of view that draws on the unconscious and today’s world, that Maria Grazia Chiuri uses as a foil for embroideries and other embellishments.

‘Les Oiseaux du Paradis’
| Black organza and tulle bustier dress with layered feather embroideries inspired by the design Faubourg Saint-Honoré from spring-summer 1949.

On a dress illuminated by a mirage of peacock feathers, precious and delicate ornaments become eyes that behold and express mystery — as well as the spiritual power of today’s women.

Review: luxxrs London

Fashion as activism: Amna Elshandaweely

Egyptian designer Amna Elshandaweely creates clothes that break stereotypes, reference history and draw from indigenous cultures. Speaking at the Design Indaba festival 2018 and in an interview with CR, she sheds light on the politics of clothing in Egypt and the role of fashion in revolution.

Most Egyptians don’t like to think of themselves as ‘African’, states Elshandaweely. She claims that the rich colours, vibrant prints and tribal motifs often associated with the continent as a whole are often rejected in Egypt as vulgar or unaspirational. Egyptian fashion, she says, tends to be shaped by two major forces, a desire to imitate the West and simultaneously hold on to conservative Islamic values.

“I remember, when I was little,” said Elshandaweely said in her speech at Design Indaba, “my mother took me to buy clothes for our feast – which is like Christmas is in the West. Nothing I saw in the stores seemed to excite me. I would look at all the advertising and magazines and no one in there looked like me. So I asked my mum if we could go buy some fabric and take it to the tailor to make clothes that I wanted to wear. I’ve been making my own clothes ever since.”

Interview: Gernot Mueller

Lacoste replaces crocodile logo for limited edition range

In a collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Lacoste has swapped its famous crocodile logo for ten of the world’s most threatened animals on a set of limited edition polo shirts.

Lacoste’s crocodile logo is known throughout the world, but on a limited edition of polo shirts created in partnership with the ICUN’s Save Our Species initiative, the brand is dropping it. It will be replaced with a series of ten different animals, all of which are facing extinction.

Review: Gernot Mueller

 

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