Designers who work at iconic fashion houses often look back on the label’s historical past for inspiration and reference points in their new seasonal collections. After all, at places like Dior, which was founded in 1946, there are decades of work to be reexamined and reimagined. Maria Grazia Chiuri embraced this school of thought for Dior’s Spring/Summer 2023 collection. The house’s creative director was not only inspired by a map of Paris that was printed on an early 1950s Dior scarf, but she was also fascinated by Catherine de Medici. (For a little history lesson, Medici was queen of France from 1547 to 1559 and was known to be an unyielding ruler. She was also the mother to three French kings: Francis II, Charles IX, and Henry III.)
“[This] noblewoman remains a figure emblematic of the relationship between women and power, and fascinates Maria Grazia Chiuri because of her political intelligence, but also the innovations she launched, such as heels, the corset, and Burano lace, introduced to the royal manufactures,” the house states in its show notes. It should be noted that Chiuri has a history at Dior for highlighting strong, powerful women in her collections. Thus, the polarizing Medici was right up Chiuri’s alley.
For her Spring 2023 lineup, Chiuri aptly merges what she’s learned about Medici with Dior’s classic design codes. As models walked down the runway in the Tuileries Garden, which was created by Medici in 1564, corsetry stood out as key component in Dior’s new offerings. Chiuri updated this boudoir piece by giving it a quasi-geometric shape that frames the bust. As the show notes reveal: “[This] guêpière, sometimes hidden, sometimes visible, outlines a silhouette reminiscent of the wide skirts worn at the court of Catherine de Medici.”
Florals and lace were in abundance as well, with blooms appearing on bralettes, paperbag-waist skirts, and billowy shorts. Oftentimes, these pieces featured a delicate white lace trim along the hemlines. Several standout pieces from the collection were Dior’s raffia coats, which as stated by the show notes are an “ancestral tradition,” that was reimagined by Chiuri via floral and bird motifs for the more contemporary consumer.
In drawing from Dior’s historical past for this collection, Chiuri also seemed to pay tribute to one of its former creative directors: John Galliano, one of the first British designers to take over a French fashion house, working at Dior from 1996 to 2011. Several Instagram users pointed to the Mary Jane heels in the Spring 2023 collection baring similarities to the sculptural shapes Galliano created for Dior in the 2000s. As for the handbags, eagle-eyed fans will spot new iterations of the icons like the Lady Dior along with a new, tassel adorned bucket bag style for next season.
There were also brooding elements to complement the romantic, light, and delicate vibes on the catwalk. At times, the clothes and accessories gave off gothic-inspired energy, whether it was through the bejeweled pendant necklaces or moody color palette — or the first several outfits of the line-up, which were all black. The use of these shades could be interpreted by fans as another subtle nod to Medici, who was referred to as the “The Black Queen,” for her ruthlessness in war and her conviction in doing anything to keep her family in power. (There’s plenty to be discussed about Medici and her family, of course, but that’s a didactic lecture for another time.)
Ahead, take a look at several of TZR’s favorite runway looks from Chiuri’s latest collection for Dior as you ruminate over her artistic direction.