The legacy of elegance and intensity that follows the iconic Dior fashion house has endured decades of fashion trends and changes. Under the control of creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri, that doesn’t seem to be changing. Their spring 2023 line was presented in Paris in September and showcased various textures, structures, and decades. Grazia has capitalized on the new baroque style clothing and made it into the modern-day streetwear looks everyone has been searching for. Since the increase in popularity with shows and movies like Bridgerton, Persuasion, and various other period pieces, the century-old styles of high necklines and dramatic detailing are making a, very long-awaited, comeback.
Despite the twists and turns fashion takes one thing will always be true, we like to steal from the past. The truth is no fashion trend will ever be new, simply modified. We stole mini sunglasses from the 90s, high waited for jeans from the 80s, and then low-waisted jeans from the 2000s, and it’d take far too long to list all the theft from the 70s. However, it seems we may have exhausted recent decades and have been forced back centuries. As far back as the 18th century, when baroque fashion was at its peak. Baroque fashion encapsulated the elegance of the royals and involved many, many layers and it did not fear the complex. With intricate pleated neckpieces and lace accenting on everything, baroque fashion typically involved large clothing that took up more space than the individual themselves.
While the Dior collection certainly pulls on the famous aspects of baroque fashion, Grazia also dips her toe into the influence of baroque architecture. Not dissimilar to the fashion of the time, baroque architecture was not simplistic by any means. What made baroque architecture so spectacular was how it manipulated the old rigid structures of architecture and created something unique. Before the baroque era decorations on buildings weren’t uncommon but they didn’t have the grandiose that the baroque brought. Grazia utilizes this in this line as she takes the basics of fashion and makes them spectacular.
The shape of the skirts in this show was particularly interesting, as they went from fitting but didn’t quite create the typical busty silhouette we see in 18th-century clothing. The panniers are not in the traditional full length but rather manipulated into the silhouette of a mini skirt, while the rest of the skirt falls flat down the model’s legs. This is where we see the modern street style of today clash, in the most beautiful way, with the traditional baroque-style garments. In fact, almost everything in this collection seems to be the old and the new fighting with each other for the limelight. In another piece, a printed corset is overlayed on a large baggy black blouse, which defeats the purpose of a corset which is to define and enhance the silhouette of a woman’s body. Perhaps this intentional misuse of the typical garments of a very oppressive time for women goes beyond fashion.
Grazi’s vision beyond fashion within her shows isn’t something new. Dior’s 2021 ‘Disturbing Beauty’ show was all about the ideal woman and its impossibility within our world, while also highlighting the journey of self-love and acceptance many women face in their lives. The catwalk was lined with mirrors forcing the models to not only see themselves twice but also for the viewers to see each model twice. Exposing a sort of twisted duality of the woman. Grazia herself stated that the intention was to depict “women passing through a mirror to realize who they are, in a voyage of self-discovery”. This similar approach seems to be apparent in this year’s show as she plays with the idea of the feminine figure and uses clothing that we typically associate with discomfort and conformity in the past, to nuanced feminism in the fashion industry.