Presented for a camera crew instead of its usual audience, Dior’s latest runway show began with low lights that revealed a cast of dancers as still as statues. Slowly, a rhythmic cadence built anticipation, as the soundtrack swelled, and patterns of theatrical luminarie—30,000 bulbs to be exact—lit a behemoth stone courtyard in Lecce, Italy, setting the stage for the house’s Cruise 2021 collection.
The maison’s Creative Director Maria Grazia Chiuri found inspiration in Puglia and its savoir faire, incorporating the region’s artisans throughout the presentation. In collaboration with Fratelli Parisi, Marinella Senatore’s work illuminated Bureau Betak’s set, applying traditional luminarie lighting to empowering phrases in French and English like, “We rise by lifting others,” and “A wish is revolutionary because it seeks what cannot be seen.”
“During this period, I sought to give collective efforts a new dimension. Despite the disadvantages of distance, bringing a different perspective to our daily lives has given us strength and imagination,” said Chiuri.
As Paolo Buonvino’s entrancing soundtrack continued, models began making their way into the square, choreographed in perfect time with the dancers, who, under the direction of Sharon Eyal, began a choreography of movements informed by the Pizzica, a dance allowing the passage from oppression to emancipation. One by one the looks emerged, bearing details pulled from fashion history and applied to the codes of Dior.
The charm of a milkmaid’s uniform was infused in a series of dresses with flowing hems and matching suits with jackets and shorts. A traditionally feminine silhouette was the focus throughout the collection, seen in airy cuts with accentuated waistlines cinched with leather yokes or corsets. Juxtaposing materials of leather and lace were incorporated into most designs, including an array of delicately textured Tolombo Italian lace made by Marilena Sparasci.
Formal gowns imagined in black and earth hues featured sheer tulle skirts with embroidered and appliquéd flowers—like a one-shouldered dress in soft green, a long-sleeved gown in black Swiss dot, and a nude gown covered in a blanket of tiny flowers. Pants were styled with matching jackets and worn over simple blouses, giving the faint impression of a 1970s influence. Each look was completed with details like head kerchiefs, leather wrist cuffs, gold jewelry, and either leather boots or lace-up sandals.
Local heritage was explored by highlighting the fabrics of Le Constantine Foundation, an organization dedicated to upholding traditional crafts and culture, in jackets and with the motto “Amando e Cantando” (“Loving and Singing”) sewn into the backs of skirts. The weaving of Puglia’s Tessitura Calabrese was implemented in exceptional fabrications like linen, satin jacquard, and hand-knotted fringes adorning hemlines. Pietro Ruffo’s illustrations were transformed into prints informed by the region’s untamed landscapes.