In celebration of Christian Dior's 70th anniversary, Italian creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri unveiled a highly anticipated Autumn/Winter 2017-18 Haute Couture collection in Paris on Monday, in the form of an homage to the haughty and travelled beauties of the brand's founder who passed away in 1957.
The Italian's first Haute Couture collection was presented on a fern-lined outdoor catwalk near Paris' Hotel des Invalides, with celebrities, including singer Celine Dion and Spanish actress Rossy de Palma, in attendance in the scorching heat.
The starting point of Chiuri's empowering, feminist display was a 1953 Atlas etching of five continents discovered in the Dior archives, which mapped the house's global expansion. Chiuri said she "went around Dior's archive" as founder Christian Dior "went around the world" to inspire her new collection.
Chiuri took Monsieur Dior's own words — that a collection should represent "all types of women in all countries" — and gave them renewed legitimacy — as the house's first female head.
The ankle-length silhouettes, which riffed on the 1950s, celebrated powerful female trailblazers of history and the bold styles worn by women thousands of miles apart.
A loose, pleated gray wool menswear aviator outfit was called "Amelia Earhart," in celebration of the American aviation pioneer who succeeded in a man's world.
An anthracite jumpsuit with a chic, Asian-style crossover and large turned-up sleeves was named "Siam" in celebration of Thai women's style.
And a delicate, sexy tulle dress with peek-a-boo sheer sections — called "Andalusia" — evoked iconic black Spanish lace.
"But he (Christian Dior) was a very strong designer for day-wear and so, in the collection, like you can see, there is a lot of jackets, coats, chemisiers," Chiuri said.
"I translate that, all these elements, with my own language and also in this time, so sometimes, some chemisier became a jumpsuit. But at the end, what they want to translate is that the DNA and the code of Dior in a way that it is possible for all women."
Chiuri said she had been inspired by a map she found in the fashion house's archives, symbolising Christian Dior's willingness to allow cultures from around the world to influence his work.Dior's willingness to allow cultures from around the world to influence his work.
Dior opens fashion house's doors on 70th anniversary
Later on Monday, Paris's Decorative Arts Museum held a VIP opening for its grand retrospective: "Christian Dior: dream designer", bringing together the designs and cultural inspiration behind Dior's history. The retrospective will open to the public on July 5.
The creative director of Paris fashion house Dior gave a rare glimpse behind the scenes at its studios ahead of Haute Couture fashion week, as the brand celebrates its 70th anniversary.
Inside the studios, scores of seamstresses worked on elaborate chiffon and gold-painted dresses, creating the ensembles that were unveiled in the highly-anticipated Autumn/Winter 2017-18 Haute Couture collection on Monday.