Polka dots, ostrich feathers and floor-grazing dresses
How does one design a dress in the age of Times Up and #MeToo?
As Maria Grazia Chiuri showed her third couture collection for Dior in Paris, women in Spain were demanding the removal of a Woody Allen statue from a tourist town, and news of a string of sexual harassment complaints against a high-profile New York editor were coming to light.
And two days before, more than one million women in America marched in protest on the anniversary of Donald Trump's presidential inauguration. In a month in which a movement of actresses, producers, directors and more are using the awards season red carpet as a platform for protest against sexual abuse, the dress has taken on a whole new resonance.
It has gone from being a fashion statement to one of resistance.
So in a way, Maria Grazia Chiuri, a woman who kicked off fashion's activist era with her unapologetic feminism, is very much a designer of the times. Her spring 2018 couture collection, shown against a dreamlike set of chessboard checks and hanging body parts, explored the Surrealist movement — specifically the art of the Argentinian feminist painter Leonor Fini who was famous for depicting women in positions of power.
What this meant for the clothes was a more serious, grownup sensibility than the upbeat stripes and youthful sheer dresses and skirts she created for spring ready to wear last October. Here, the flights of fancy, were grounded in reality.
The opulence had an air of restraint: dresses in modest shapes and long, floor-grazing, lengths, but in provocative, sheer, black mesh caging, grassy ostrich feathers and bold optical stripes and polka dots, all accessorised with masks created by the house's long-time milliner Stephen Jones.
And thanks to Chiuri's monochromatic palette (Chiuri has a proven flair for a strong, no-fuss colour story), there was enough black to suit every Hollywood activist's red carpet need — Reese Witherspoon, Ava DuVernay, Laura Dern, Viola Davis, you name it.
Chiuri's are clothes for women who are just as outspoken and powerful as the icons Fini imagined.
By Kenya Hunt
This article originally appeared on elleuk.com