Designer Maria Grazia Chiuri staged a runway show that celebrated the customs and people of the provincial town.
Maria Grazia Chiuri has gone back to business as usual, but with added safety precautions. This afternoon, the creative director of Christian Dior livestreamed her Cruise 2021 collection at the Piazza del Duomo in Lecce, a small town in Puglia, Italy—sans audience. Indeed, the maison was the first major fashion label to announce a return to staging a runway presentation at a far-flung location, which was typical for the resort season before the coronavirus outbreak.
To wit: Dior has produced shows around a roaring fire pit in Marrakech, Morocco; Canyon Open Space Preserve in Calabasas, California; and the Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, England. This time, Chiuri—who was born in Rome, Italy—picked a destination closer to home. Not only that, but she made sure to honor the town’s culture with aplomb.
The video began with scenes of the piazza lined with luminaires, which featured powerful phrases, including “Remember The First Time You Saw Her Name,” “Wish Is Revolutionary Because It Seeks What Cannot Be Seen,” and “We Rise By Lifting Others.” There was also an orchestra housed in gazebo, playing traditional Salento music for both the models and a troupe performing a modern interpretation of the pizzica, an Italian folk dance.
The reverence to the traditions, styles, and the pastoral environment of Lecce was further displayed in the 90 looks, which were created with materials sourced by local artisans. There were long gauzy dresses with wheat embroideries, lace frocks that were cinched at the waist with wide leather belts or bustiers, relaxed linen suits, trousers and skirts with floral appliqués sprouting from the hem, woven ponchos and coats that were either lined with fringe or shearling, and pinafore-style separates. The accessories, too, followed this bucolic aesthetic: lace head scarves, wreaths, gold jewelry shaped into winding leaves and berries, espadrilles, strappy flats, and ankle boots.
A lively, bohemian spirit definitely permeated throughout the show. So much so that for those unfamiliar with Italian folk music and dance, the vibe and particularly the performance may seem jarring. Nonetheless, it was impactful and celebratory of the Lecce’s customs and people—many of whom expressed their gratitude to both Dior and Chiuri for highlighting their small town, especially now that coronavirus cases have subsided in Italy and, by some measures, is returning to pre-COVID circumstances.
“The Christian Dior fashion show represents a very important acknowledgement for the city of Lecce,” said one local in a video that Dior posted on Instagram a day before the livestream. “It could have been held in any other city in the world, considering the importance of the house. And if it’s here, it means it was chosen among many. [It is] also due to the richness of this city’s artisanal activities. Salento is not just about its beautiful landscape, but it’s also about the talents of its people.”
“Hosting a fashion show near the Duomo will perhaps raise a few eyebrows, but I confess, in all sincerity, that it is precisely because of the moment we are going through that we need culture and hope for people in the contemplation of beauty,” said another.