Dior hosts a closed-door catwalk to a virtual audience for its Cruise 2021 show

During a time in which where we call home plays a crucial role in our lives, it was fitting that Dior’s Italian creative director should offer the house’s Cruise show as a tribute to her motherland.

Held in the Piazza de Duomo in Lecce, a small town in Puglia – the region where the designer’s father was born and Chiuri spent much of her childhood – the French fashion house staged a closed-door catwalk last night which was broadcast live to millions across the globe.

There were no fashion press, influencers or celebrities on the front row. But despite the only audience in attendance being Dior’s own team and a gathering of locals, who watched from balconies lining the square, Chiuri was determined to stage a spectacular showcase.

Set to a backdrop of traditional live music and dance, illuminated by a rainbow light installation created by resident artist Marinella Senatore involving 30,000 bulbs and 12 days of work, the locals were the stars on the catwalk too, as Chiuri sought to shine a spotlight on the native artisan techniques for which the area is renown. From rare tombolo embroidery to the ancestral weaving – created by the Costantine Foundation which was established to preserve this heritage form of textile design – humble crafts became haute creations at the hands of Chiuri.

Dior Cruise 2021 show (Getty Images)

The workshop’s motto, Amando e Cantando – meaning loving and singing – was also woven onto the back of skirts.

Hand woven knits bearing native floral motifs, tassel-trimmed pinafore dresses and peasant blouses all lent a homespun feel to the luxury offering, while models stomped the catwalk in flat boots and wore crocheted handkerchiefs in their hair.

Speaking on Zoom ahead of last night’s event, the designer described this celebration of the land and her family roots as a deeply personal moment.

“I have never worked so hard or for so long on a collection,” said Chiuri, speaking of the challenges involved with creating such a collaborative collection between Puglia’s artisans and the Paris atelier while confined to Rome for much of lockdown. “The way that we work in fashion is completely different now, but I don’t believe it is possible for a creative to work alone.”

Grazia Chiuri at the end of the show with her team (AFP via Getty Images)

The region’s ancient, mystical connections and magic rituals such as tarot reading also served as a source of inspiration and optimism for Chiuri. “It is necessary at a difficult time to believe that some magic can happen in your life,” said Chiuri. “Believing in magic allowed me to have hope for the future.”

The show was originally scheduled to be staged on May 27 but was postponed due to global quarantine restrictions. Last night’s event marked the first time a major brand has hosted a virtual catwalk show since the coronavirus outbreak.


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