Maria Grazia Chiuri merges functionality with fashion in a high- tech ready-to-wear collection rooted in female empowerment
The relationship between fashion and the female form is reconstructed at Dior for Autumn/Winter 2022 with an empowering collection fusing heritage, savoir-faire and futuristic technologies. Innovation is at the forefront and demonstrates technology’s continued fashion takeover. With the metaverse, digital currencies and couture-clad avatars taking the industry — and the world — by storm, it was only a matter of time before high-tech garments arrived on the catwalk. And it’s Maria Grazia Chiuri who is leading the fashion pack. “Clothes are basically our body’s first home, so experimenting and seeing how, with technology, this home can not only be aesthetically beautiful but also have functional aspects that allow us to be more comfortable is a way of looking at fashion in the future,” the Dior creative director explains.
Dubbed The Next Era, the collection is named after artworks imagined by artist Mariella Bettineschi specifically for the presentation. Staged in the heart of Paris at the Jardin des Tuileries, models walked among large-scale portraits of 16th century women, their stacked eyes gazing towards a (hopefully imminent) future where women reign — a message reflective of Chiuri’s feminist heart. Throughout the collection, she echoes this sentiment and utilises timeless silhouettes to honour the Maison’s past while looking to the future. “This collection seeks to express the complexity of fashion that revisits heritage in order to conceive the lines of tomorrow,” the show notes read.
Working in collaboration with D-Air Lab laboratories, an Italian brand renowned for supplying protective gear to athletes, astronauts and individuals that hurl themselves into harm’s way, the Maison integrated airbag technology in some pieces as a symbol of protection, the garments acting as armour — metaphorically and literally — to empower the wearer. An astronaut-approved bodysuit equipped with photoluminescent tubes opened the show and introduced spectators to the stellar science to come, including reimagined corsetry and an updated Bar Jacket. The former was remade to protect rather than restrict by enveloping backs, chests and shoulders while the latter featured a temperature-regulating system with sensors to defend the body from sub-zero temperatures (meaning you could overnight in Antarctica without so much as a shiver).
The Next Era is Chiuri’s natural progression of Christian Dior’s New Look, as traditional codes and emblematic embroideries are presented on reimagined fabrics. The collection juxtaposes the femininity of delicate, lace-covered bodysuits with neon-splashed biker gloves and structured suiting. Elsewhere, full-bodied skirts are offered in pleated, long and asymmetric styles while dresses borrow griselle mesh from the boys, cementing the notion that whatever they can do, women can do too. By simultaneously revisiting archival pieces and integrating next-generation technology, Dior Autumn/Winter is as much about the past as it is about the future and we can’t wait to see what’s next.
- Words by Savanna Smith