For Spring 2020, Maria Grazia Chiuri revealed just how her garden grows. It even comes complete with “pretty maids all in a row”—most of whom, pointedly, were wearing Greta Thunberg–style braids. (The milliner Stephen Jones is responsible for the sun-filtering hats.)
Climate crisis and sustainability are pressing issues in the world, and in fashion, and Chiuri addressed them in varied ways that were personal to her—and to the brand. The season’s muse was none other than the original Miss Dior, Catherine, a sister of the house founder. Like her mother, Catherine was an avid gardener. She was also a member of the French Resistance and was interned in a German concentration camp during World War II. “After the horrors of the war, I think they were both in search of beauty—Christian found it in couture and Catherine in flowers and plants,” Chiuri told Vogue.
This is not the first reference Chiuri has made to Catherine. The designer’s debut haute couture collection for Spring 2017 contained a riff on the Miss Dior dress from 1947. Chiuri’s, christened Spirit of Herbarium (Essence d’Herbier) was based on an embroidery sample from the 1950s. As distinctive as the floral handwork on that strapless frock was the designer’s use of raffia, a natural material she made much use of again for Spring 2020.
The location of the Spring 2020 show was the Longchamp Racecourse (Hippodrome de Longchamp), which in the 1930s and ’20s was, according to Vogue, the “trial-ground of fashions.” It was where trends were set, and the crème de la crème of society gathered under a mature horse-chestnut tree known as “the Tree of the Femmes du Monde.” A century later, Chiuri invited her audience to do much the same—but in a spirit of inclusiveness rather than exclusiveness. She worked with Coloco, “a collective committed to the collective art of cultivating gardens as a driver of urban inclusiveness,” according to the show notes, who “conceived the show like a moment suspended in time.” The trees, Chiuri pointed out to Vogue’s Sally Singer, were “not solely European trees as healthy gardens are, by design, heterogeneous.” “And so,” Singer observed, “in the center of the Dior runway lay the central analogy for the show: Respect for diversity and nature will set us free.”
Continuing the positive momentum, the plants and trees used to create this enchanted garden will be replanted elsewhere. Many were hung with tags that read #plantingforthefuture.
With this collection, Chiuri very clearly staked out her by now well-rooted signatures and is silently aligning herself as a “perennial” designer, one who evolves techniques and motifs rather than abandoning them from season to season. Foremost among her cultivations is the whisper-light, embellished, romantic dress. This season they featured herbarium motifs, some of which Chiuri discovered in the Museum of Natural History in Paris.
No Dior show is complete without a reference to the house’s grand tradition of tailoring, the apotheosis of which is the hourglass-shaped Bar Jacket. This season its variants were layered over skirts and even paired with espadrilles for a more low-key vibe.
Fresh for spring were the workwear elements, including, noted Singer, “a small passage of looks in stone gray cotton that provided the chicest nod to utility on the runway in some time.” If the gardening tote complete with tools was proplike, Dior’s all-terrain perforated combat boots are sure to walk miles. Even the Dior tote went green.
For the Miss Diors who live in the city, Chiuri gave a rural twist to the those Parisienne staples, the striped Breton sweater and espadrilles, by pairing them with a floral skirt or work-ready trousers.
Really bringing things full circle was the music, “River,” a composition by Alexandre Desplat from the soundtrack of the movie, The Tree of Life.
Originally Appeared on Vogue