Yesterday in Paris, attendees to Dior’s Paris Fashion Week presentation reeled in yet another unique Bureau Betak–designed space. Approaching a 4,429-foot rectangular white tent, the brand’s name was spelled out in an eight-foot-high logo of letters above the entrance—first seen in four red squares are the brand’s letters spelled out by the shape of the human body twisted into “D,” I,” “O,” and “R.” The continuation of art followed inside, inspired largely by the human alphabet work of Italian artist Tomaso Binga, wherein the artist uses the human to stand still in a twisted position to mimic a letter’s shape to spell out words.
Inside, the space was a white palette, with its walls and floor filled with a red grid. From floor to ceiling, we saw letters of the alphabet in each square spelled out by a warped human figure. Above, the ceiling made of mirrors reflected the floor. For three weeks, an installation crew worked on every last detail, using 280 wooden frames and over one-and-a-half tons of polystyrene to create 24 of the letters of the alphabet, showing 174 letters total. While guests marveled in the space, the show began.
This season, Maria Grazia Chiuri sifted through an array of images, silhouettes, and gender question language in her mind, turning her eyes to Teddy Girls. The term refers to the female counterpoint to Teddy Boys—an early subculture of British fashion where young men dressed in attire inspired by the dandies of the Edwardian period. Here, the designer takes a look back to the 1950s to re-discover a period that once was marked by Christian Dior’s “New Look” revolution—a major shift in post-war fashion that Dior pursued to help revive France’s fashion industry.
For Fall/Winter 2019, we saw a Teddy Girls takeover. Taking control of the runway were strong female leads wearing Edwardian-style jackets, black leather jackets, velvet scarves, expressive skirts, proper-yet-edgy hats, and jeans. Chiuri associated these looks with a past Princess Margaret—a princess that for her 21st birthday in 1951 wore a Dior dress instead of a British designer—who epitomized the rebellious spirit she embraces. That birthday image, shot by Cecil Beaton, inspired Chiuri to bring forth attention to the girls of today who would do the same.
Seen as a juxtaposition between elegance and rebellion, we saw several looks that reminded us of the brand’s “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams” exhibition, now on view at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Dior DNA was reimagined with a new mix of subversion and subculture, seen with masculine cuts and fabrics in pieces like a Bar suit, and adorned with sweet, feminine details, like velvet collars and fluid above-the-ankle skirt hemlines. We saw the blacked leather jacket Yves Saint Laurent created for the house as an homage to the underground culture of 1950s and ‘60s, revisited for the Teddy Girls of the 21st century. Evening dresses, skirts, and bodysuits also takes on a mix of grace and strength, seen embroidered and embellished with barely-there paillettes.
We also saw a new palm tree print in a version of Toile de Jouy that recalled the creations of artist Mario Schifano, donning shirts or combined with check prints and gingham patterns in black and red, or black and white. There were several silkscreened t-shirts, as well, that payed homage to the works of American feminist poet Robin Morgan, like Sisterhood is Powerful (1970), Sisterhood is Global (1984), and Sisterhood is Forever (2003). Throughout the show, too, we kept our eye on one key accessory—a wide black waist belt, reimagined from the Dior saddlebag, with its dangling “D” on the right side for good measure.