Situated on the cusp of Dior’s history, on the continual pulse of fashion, Maria Grazia Chiuri’s collections are suspended between the present and the future, beating to the rhythm of simultaneity, synchronicity, in tune with the times. The Next Era* is the title of the work Mariella Bettineschi imagined for the Dior ready-to-wear fall-winter 2022-2023 show, wherein the Italian artist proposes a gallery of paintings composed of large-scale portraits of women from the history of painting from the 16th to the 19thcentury. Their cut up, stacked eyes question the judgment that has conditioned – and still conditions – women past and present. The gaze is reversed to suggest another reading of art history. This “framework” of the fashion show breathes life into Maria Grazia Chiuri’s concepts; notably (re)constructing a performative relationship between the body and the garment in a technical, aesthetic perspective, in a succession of operations associating forms, savoir-faire, materials and futuristic technologies.
The inside of Monsieur Dior’s garments reveals an extraordinary construction system. The Bar jacket, revisited by the Creative Director for this collection, transforms the structure of the original model into a system that regulates the body’s humidity and warms it up if necessary, thanks to innovative techniques developed in the D-Air lab** laboratories, while a bodysuit – crisscrossed by what appears to be an organic network of colored veins and arteries in luminescent colors – maintains a constant temperature.
The Next Era is also a temporal short-circuit where the iconic Roger Vivier for Dior pump is re-appropriated through the possibilities of embroidery, an example of exceptional craftsmanship enhanced by a technical fabric yoke around the ankle. Pieces that can be worn alone or in combination – such as belts with multiple pockets, or the adjustable laced corset – complete many outfits. Designed to be infinitely versatile, these pieces celebrate a new sartorial order where even the iconic Lady Dior sees itself transformed to accommodate everyday essentials.
The skirts are also reinvented, thanks to fabrics borrowed from the men’s wardrobe – such as grisaille – and are transformed according to the angle from which they are viewed to offer long, short, and pleated cuts. A hybrid collection that opens up unsuspected creativity through the use of embroidery, which adorns technical knitwear, waterproof materials, Nylon and cashmere. And, with a respect tinged with rebellion, the famous portrait of Christian Dior posing in front of the wall hanging that decorated his winter garden is appropriated so the latter is turned into a print that adorns a large coat while couture gloves – redolent of the biker world – climb the arm as a finishing touch to the silhouette. This collection seeks to express the complexity of fashion that revisits heritage in order to conceive the lines of tomorrow. A journey that shapes the artifacts of a new world, another world, to be made and invented.
* The Next Era, art installation by Mariella Bettineschi.
** D-Air lab is an Italian start-up founded in 2015 by Lino Dainese. Architect Silvia Dainese Gris is leading this special project for Dior.