Fusing femininity and masculinity, the Dior Pre-Fall collection is an ode to powerful women

The Christian Dior Pre-Fall 2018 collection by Maria Grazia Chiuri was inspired by the work of Claude Cahun (pseudonym of Lucy Schwob), surrealist writer, photographer, actress, political activist and member of the French Resistance who was also openly homosexual. The Artistic Director was first struck by her photographic self-portraits. The collection is propelled by the artist and her decision to embody the character of Claude in order to “see [herself] in the third personˮ, but also by her photos, in which the concepts of masculine and feminine are poses and masks.

“I wanted to take on the precision of the basics and materials that make up a man’s wardrobe. I sought to showcase the least explored part of Christian Dior’s legacy, an almost austere part, with the use of masculine fabrics and jackets, coats and shirts with rigorous lines. In the same way, I became interested in the work of Hedi Slimane with Petite Taille for Women, when he was Creative Director of Dior Homme.” Maria Grazia Chiuri also draws inspiration from the House’s more recent history, incorporating it into her ongoing dialogue with the Dior heritage.

Women’s clothes are treated in a surrealistic way and made from the raw masculine fabrics used by Christian Dior in his time. On dresses, gray flannel contrasts with unexpected transparency in the openings of pleats. The unmistakably feminine forms express two different attitudes: one, rather austere, with collars that are reminiscent of the shirt collar as worn by Claude Cahun, and the other, more sensual, all in lengths and transparencies. For the evening, embroideries are opaque, with sequins in black or burnished gold superimposed to create relief. The emblematic Dior lines and proportions are revisited in light versions in gray and powder-pink tulle.

The House codes – volumes, necklines, lengths – are deconstructed and reworked in unprecedented plays of contrasts. Thus, the satin loved by Christian Dior appears as skirts perfectly conceived for the female body of today. Creations are worn against the skin, under a masculine coat.

As a collection it fully explores the interplay between masculine and feminine, while making them engage with a complexity that allows each woman to express her personality.