Artist Isabella Ducrot’s installation, Big Aura, adorns the walls of the room hosting the presentation of the Dior haute couture collections in the Rodin Museum gardens. For the set design of this Dior haute couture spring- summer 2024 show , twenty-three oversized dresses, some five meters high, are arranged on a composition of irregular black stripes reminiscent of weft and warp. They echo the dresses of Ottoman sultans studied by Isabella Ducrot. An abstract symbolization of the garment , which emblemizes a power that transcends the body .
For Maria Grazia Chiuri, Big Aura is what pervades haute couture, which is a perpetually fertile ground for contemplation where the reproduction of the original is never the same. Each piece is bound to be adapted to the body of the weare r , and carries its own specific aura. According to Walter Benjamin’s 1 definition, aura – to which Maria Grazia Chiuri and Isabella Ducrot refer in different ways – reflects the uniqueness and authenticity of the work of art. It inscribes it in the collective memory .
The Creative Director of Dior women’s lines decided to trace aura through the House’s haute couture history which embodies the essence of fashion and ultimate excellence. The La Cigale dress – designed by Christian Dior for autumn-winter 1952 – evokes the sacredness of the Atelier through its sculptural construction and moiré fabric, thus becoming the starting point for a theory that recontextualizes couture. A fragile boundary between art and life.
Moiré 2 “unf urls over winter like a wave.” It is used in a striking palette of shades that emphasize , “ th rough its substance an d sculptural quality 3 “ , the iridescence of the fabric: gold, white, gra y , burgund y , green. This effect is reflected in garments that reproduce the geometric lines of La Cigale , creating an architectural elegance: coats with imposing collars, wide skirts revealing exaggerated cut-outs, overlapping layers, pants and jackets. The shapes revisit details of dresses from the Dior archives to recreate contemporary looks. Cotton and silk in a trench-coat color create a captivating, innovative yet classic effect.
Black velvet dresses sublimate the look, flowing in motion, while a sumptuous feather cape rests on an embroidered double organza dress. The embroidery is like fragments of ancient poems unearthed, leading the imagination to meande r . It conjures the colorful variety of nature, as the Millefiori motif punctuates the entire surface of a yellow moiré dress, or strands of long threads sway to the rhythm of footsteps.
Thus, in this collection, Maria Grazia Chiuri evokes, through the tangible , a chromatic and constructive presence of the elements that form the silhouettes, the aura-like dimension of haute couture: a powerful experience that is not only contemplative, but also performative. An expression of the metamorphic spirit of the imagination.
1 Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, 1939.
2 A finish applied to certain fabrics by calendering, giving them a wavy appearance.
3 These two consecutive passages are taken from the book Dior By Christian Dior (Assouline, 2016), which examines the role of moiré and, in particular , the 1952 design of the haute couture silhouette La Cigale, designed by Christian Dior