Just a few hours ago in Paris, Dior debuted its Spring/Summer 2020 collection within a sustainably constructed forest. Before taking their seats, guests wandered the spectacularly eerie set by Bureau Betak, which took around 100 people each day for two weeks to assemble. The conversation around climate change has been one that is both urgent and ongoing, so Dior took each detail seriously to ensure its reclaimed impact was felt.
170 trees were purchased from planet nurseries and resurrected here for introspective thought about the planet. Additionally, 4,000 meters of brackets held the construction together, 4,500 square meters of fabric made up the audience’s seats, and over 2,200 square meters of wooden planks were used for the façade and bleachers. Even the lighting was highly considered—all electricity used for the duration of the show was produced using generators powered by canola oil.
Upcycling didn’t end there. The installation both virtually and literally lives on through a hashtag, #PlantingForTheFuture, and throughout the Paris region. All 170 trees will be replanted in three different locations in Paris, and the physical materials used for the set will be entirely recuperated for re-use by La Réserve des Arts.
Once seated, attendees drew their attention to the spotlighted foliage in front of them before the latest women’s looks from Maria Grazia Chiuri danced by. Each season, in addition to the immersive sets, we also make it a point to digest the collection notes. The first quote stated “Think we must. Must we think.” We couldn’t help but to think of its roots—borrowed from the 2014 book The Unfaithful Daughters of Virginia Woolf Women Who Make a Fuss. The recent authors encourage women around the world to pay attention to Virginia Woolf’s original plead to “Think We Must” and stir significant conversation around injustice, arrogance, and cruelty.
Chiuri dug into the photographic archives of Christian Dior’s sister, Catherine, for her starting point. Images of Catherine in her garden showed passion and character—an introduction into why she was such a protagonist in the house’s history. Surrounded by her family’s garden, Catherine embodied the Miss Dior spirit—it was her nickname, and later an iconic perfume named in her honor. She cultivated independence and was comforted by nature and its changing seasons.
For the new collection, Chiuri evoked this spirit with motifs and embroideries of botanical species. Not as nostalgic as it was contemplative, the collection sparked ideas about what it meant to care for flora and fauna today in the Anthropocene era. While mankind rules the planet, is it possible to have balance between herbaria and humans? Here at the show, it is. Chiuri and her landscape artists created an “inclusive garden” for co-existence to flourish. Between the paths of trees emerged a collection that preserved both nature and beauty for a bright future.
As models made their way between the paths of trees, we saw natural elements come alive. Long skirts with straw-like appliques were taken in at the waist with CD hemp yarn belts; jumpsuits that appeared to be tie-dyed and sun-bleached matched large Christian Dior tote bags; necklaces embodying the shapes of branches and flowers were seen on strings of beads; and straw hats by Stephen Jones were seen adorning nearly every look.
The natural color palette and overall feel was undeniable, but small, deliberate pieces accompanied each look for human balance in the herbaria world. Some of those pieces came in the form of shirts, buttoned high to the neck and tucked well into bottoms; black leather vests were worn tight over long-sleeved tunics; and thin mesh organza dresses—gorgeously overgrown in sewn plant life details.