Dior showcases Italian folklore in catwalk show at dusk

Models present creations from Dior's Cruise 2021 collection during a live-streamed runway show without an audience due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the Piazza del Duomo, in Lecce, Italy, 22 July 2020.
Models present creations from Dior's Cruise 2021 collection during a live-streamed runway show without an audience due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at the Piazza del Duomo, in Lecce, Italy, 22 July 2020. Reuters

Christian Dior hosted a live but audience-free fashion show on Wednesday in the Italian city of Lecce, in a dazzling celebration of local crafts and traditions that included a dance spectacle in the middle of the baroque main square.

Luxury labels are tentatively returning to the catwalk after the coronavirus pandemic, and Dior streamed the show live without the usual array of celebrities in the front row.

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But the French brand upped the ante by staging an extravanga with a live orchestra and dancers performing a modern take on a traditional tune, while models wound their way through a gallery of lights called Luminarie in Lecce's Piazza del Duomo.

Outfits in the so-called "Cruise" collection included embroidered dresses with firework patterns, in a nod to Italian folklore, while artist Pietro Ruffo's wildflower drawings were translated onto colourful dresses.

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Dior's Italian creative chief Maria Grazia Chiuri said she had sought to showcase the craftmanship of the Puglia region - her father's homeland - and help it endure by casting it in a fresh light.

"I understood in this process where my passion and my origins are from and why I am so attracted to this type of work, this embroidery, this tradition," Chiuri told Reuters in an interview. "I saw my grandmother, my aunts, women used to sit outside their homes and create this beautiful work."

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One ivory dress, bejeweled with dozens of butterflies and roses in bobbin lace, was handmade by one of the few woman still able to master the old lacemaking technique.

LVMH-owned Dior called on the Costantine Foundation, a center involved in self-assertion of women, to manufacture cloth like macramé and lace in natural color, handcrafted with old looms in the Italian countryside.

One ivory dress, bejeweled with dozens of butterflies and roses in bobbin lace, was handmade by one of the few woman still able to master the old lacemaking technique.

Other looks featured shearling jackets, tie-dye prints or a black tulle dress sewn with ears of wheat in raffia.