Couture designers call on arthouse filmmakers to bring life to presentations

With the pandemic forcing Paris Fashion week
online, haute couture designers have turned to celebrated arthouse directors
to give a little spectacle to their presentations, even if some admit a
growing desperation to return to live shows.

In these uncertain times, the fashion world needs a touch of magic more
than ever and Dior drafted in Italian director Matteo Garrone for their latest
collection inspired by tarot cards.

The filmmaker behind recent left-field hits such as “Gomorrah” and
“Pinocchio” created a dreamlike adventure in which a young woman crosses paths
with tarot characters such as Justice, the Madman and Death.

The creations on display mix the feminine — a long lace dress with
voluminous sleeves — with the masculine, in the form of a reinvented version
of Dior’s iconic “bar” suit.
“Tarot cards speak of a magical world,” said Maria Grazia Chiuri, the
fashion house’s Italian haute couture designer. “Not to tell us the future,
but to better understand the present and our personality.”

Garrone’s “artisanal approach to film-making has a language that is poetic,
extremely picturesque, that marries up very well with my vision of haute
couture,” she told AFP.

Meanwhile, Chanel made their online presentation on Wednesday with a short
film and photos by another cult film favourite, Anton Corbijn, known for his
gritty Joy Division biopic “Control” and many photographic portraits of rock

“I knew that we couldn’t organise a major catwalk show, that we had to do
something else. So I had the idea of a little cortege that descends the stairs
of the Grand Palais. Like a family celebration, a marriage,” said Virginie
Viard, Chanel’s creative director.

Using creativity to make lockdown a little lighter

Such positive energy has been hard to maintain as the pandemic grinds on,
delaying the return to the glitz and glamour of live fashion events.
“It’s pointless to deny that the catwalk shows are a key element, not just
for Dior, but for the whole fashion world. The guests are a part of the show,”
said Chiuri.

She is preparing a pret-a-porter collection for the next Fashion Week in
March, though she has no idea what will happen.
“The start of the year has been very difficult. There have been ups and
downs. It’s tiring to constantly find the strength to keep pushing forward.
But creativity is a refuge in these difficult times,” she said.
Tarot cards were a refuge for Christian Dior himself, who often turned to
them as he built his fabled fashion house through the uncertain postwar years.

Chiuri’s latest designs draw on the famed Visconti tarots of the 15th
century, adorned with gold and enamel, richly verdant and geometrical —
images that guide the contours of the draped dresses and their time-faded
colour schemes.

The new take on the bar jacket involves black velvet with a new
construction of lateral folds, accessorised with trousers and moccasins.
Chiuri sticks with her well-known feminist aesthetic of flat shoes —
extremely rare in the world of haute couture — while gold and silver cage
boots complete the long dresses.

The style of the Italian Renaissance is also evoked in the way the
materials have been worked.
One technique — known as “devoured velvet” — involves removing a layer of
the velvet to bring out the gold lamé background on the “thousand flowers”
dress, or hand-painted zodiac signs on another. (AFP)

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