Mermaid shops for haute couture
The miniatures in 'Le Mythe Dior' reference an important point in fashion history when 60 designers saved.
Mermaid shops for haute couture
Marbbie Tagabucba (The Philippine Star) - July 10, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Half-woman, half-fish, a mermaid stars in the fashion film Le Mythe Dior’s cast of Greek mythological characters presenting the Dior haute couture autumn-winter 2020-2021 collection. She is joined by nymphs, the ivory statue Galatea, the intertwined tree lovers Baucis and Philemon, a nymph/satyr couple, and a half-snail woman. Even Narcissus makes a cameo.

“Surrealist images manage to make visible what is in itself invisible. I’m interested in mystery and magic, which are also ways of exorcising uncertainty about the future,” says womenswear creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri, who collaborated with Pinocchio (2019) director Matteo Garrone for the fabled fashion house’s first digital haute couture presentation.

Literally downsizing its presence at Paris Haute Couture Week, the true stars of the film are transported inside a trunk bearing the emblematic façade of Dior’s Paris headquarters at 30 Avenue Montaigne, carried by bellhops, acting the part of door-to-door salesmen. They are miniature gowns on 16-inch dolls — a look at how Dior will engage with couture clients as a COVID-proof measure.

Back in the ateliers, petite mains take on a new meaning as the house’s artisans and seamstresses — real-life fairy godmothers who do everything by hand — turn the miniatures into life-size gowns. A continuation of Chiuri’s Greek mythology theme from the past season, the collection is luminescent and diaphanous; fit for a magical world, as well as a dreary one that could nowadays use some magic. In the film, the nymph wears a pleated chiffon gown as she is chased by her satyr lover. Philemon wears a dress that took three seamstresses and 300 hours to create as she carries on making out with Baucis. The mermaid wears silk gauze to travel the Seven Seas.

The French fashion industry from the aftermath of World War II with Théâtre de la Mode in 1945.

To say that Le Mythe Dior is a fairytale for these challenging times is a double-edged sword. First, it has been subject to criticism due to a lack of diversity in its casting, an issue which Dior has addressed, owing to the director’s vision of Greek mythology. Second, does the world really need couture in a pandemic?

Le Mythe Dior is an optimistic reminder for the brand that has couture in its DNA. The miniatures in Le Mythe Dior reference an important point in fashion history when 60 designers saved the French fashion industry from the aftermath of World War II with Théâtre de la Mode in 1945. With materials in short supply, the idea by couturier Robert Ricci (son of designer Nina Ricci) was to dress miniature female mannequins, one-third the size of their human counterparts, with the same meticulous care they do for their human clients. The touring exhibition debuted in the Louvre and traveled to London and the United States for a year. It was a success. Even those who couldn’t order the clothes and accessories paid to see the meticulous minis up-close. Proceeds from the show benefited French war survivors. 

Dior himself worked for the couture house of Lucien Le Long at the time and dressed one mannequin in a precursor to his revolutionary New Look. His cinched waist and full-skirt silhouette caught the attention of buyers and the press. “New Look” defined a new era in fashion as the world became excited to dress up again.

Viewing the collection from my own front row in my living room, I am transported by Chiuri and Garrone’s poetic fantasy. As the fashion world tuned in to Dior’s online channels for the unveiling of Le Mythe Dior on Monday, we were all children again, collectively dreaming of better days. We will go out, come together, and dress up again.

* * *

Dior is in The Shoppes At Solaire.

DIOR
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