Dior Cruise 2023, Seville, Spain, Mariagrazia Chiuri, fashion show, Cruise

Staging a Spanish fashion inquisition. Dior in Seville – the Spanish cultural hub

‘The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain’. In its characteristic feminist tone, Dior recalls a cathartic flamenco and a daring bullfighting. Choose your player

Fashion spectacle is back on track at Dior 22/23 Resort

If we think about it, the matador ensemble known as the traje de luces, or suit of lights, is memorably festive in its celebration of death survival. Facing then conquesting fear is a powerful ritual often transpiring in clothing, dreamily endorsing resilience ever since clustered cave men were sharing a much more modest communication code.

The first flamenco dancer to show up on stage all dressed up in ‘man suits’ similar to the chaquetilla, the cropped jacket, and a coordinating vest was Carmen Amaya, prompt to state her victory. Battling with norms and boundaries of prejudice while performing with only her body, Carmen’s costume became the bare alignment of a silhouette.

Thumping and daunting, speaking of feminism in fashion can comfortably come off as a devious temptation to erase the language of femininity. Maria Grazia Chiuri crossed over any doubt of that intention in the latest Dior Cruise held in Seville, the southern soul of Spanish tradition manifestation, one of the few cities to host religions and cultural intertwinement.

The opening of the Dior Resort show in Seville

Opening the awing show, the flamenco dancers were distant partners in dialogue with the rhythm, surfacing up all the bottled tension one could gulp in an era of social resentment. A black and white shall, confidently grabbing the model’s shoulders and descending the Plaza de España stairs, is the first whisper of vibrant mixture between past and atemporality.

The imposingly romantic dresses and dandy outfits followed up in the serene but gasp-worthy fashion cruise. Between Valasquez’s red tones, varnished blacks, and sun-kissed bronze, we assist in a Spanish aesthetic glorification. Touches of creamy hues and burgundy reds, like bread and wine, the culinary equivalent of sin eraser, but with fashion, where no confession is requested.

Then, there is a hyperbolized layering looming over the Dior ensembles. A jacket on top of a vest, on top of a shirt, on top of a fluid, voluminous dress, on top of leggings, on top of laced socks. All wrapped up as a horizontal masculine and feminine superposition, almost like in a tango.

Spicing up the whole visual dynamic are details like fishnet socks, pearled chokers, or low waste security belts. Thick macrame collars and leather laced gloves convey elegance and power, attuned with masculine elements such as shirt braces.

Dior Cruise 2023, Seville, Spain, Mariagrazia Chiuri, fashion show, Cruise
Cruise 2023. Angela Suarez pour Dior

Collecting traditional techniques – «It’s actually haute couture craftsmanship»

Inspired by Carmen Amaya and the warmth of Andalusia, Maria Grazia Chiuri repurposes the Dior resort. Transforming it into a platform of heritage propagation.

«You feel that tradition is alive here. I recognize a lot of myself in this Mediterranean idea of women. I’ve felt a strong link and connection», says the creative director. Making a habit of involving local craftsmanship and artistry, she reopens the conversation around cultural appropriation and its ethicality.

You can feel the hands and vision of Spanish professionals in garment creation, relinquishing an authentic clothing vibe. The locals’ attachment to meaning and origins leave the final tangible imprint upon the Dior Resort collection.

Over the past years, debates on drawing inspiration from unbelonging cultures became more than background noise, with huge houses having to justify and track all the appropriation operations. «When people are becoming more nationalistic, we need to build bridges with fashion. And somehow, all of this is in the story of the craftsmanship». 

Fashion as a community work

Reinforcing the importance of fashion in building collectives, Maria Grazia Chiuri believes that «fashion is community work». The overall result is more theatrical, coming closer to traditional clothing. Less subtle than a stylization of a habit or characteristic elements.

Not far from stage and costume design, the garments from the collection make you understand the parallel between involving local knowledge and interpreting a cultural reference. Playing with tulle, suede, taffeta, netting, velvet, and rich flower embroideries, every touch is a spasm of the past with its formality and distinction.

Oversized ‘gitano’ suits in black and red notes of gypsy jazz flourish between the dresses. Prints mixing folkloristic Spanish motifs become a subliminal Florentine Renascence and Arabic calligraphy juxtaposition, much like the city’s architecture. At the same time, dresses styled with structured leather jackets and unbuttoned vests, reminding of a dark high priestess, are a hint toward catholic conquest. 

Nothing more evocative of passion and mystery than the mantilla revisitation or cutout skirts. Even jeans and logo-mania transform into modern-day matador armor. To close the show where three ochre ball gowns combining María Ángeles Vila Tortosa illustrations and written messages such as ‘Fuego’, authentic to the opposition between catholic and Muslim antique expression preferences.

The scenography of Dior Cruise 2023 show. Photography Alessandro Garofalo

Joy, intensity, revival. At Dior, fashion is a ‘Festa’

«She’s like the queen, and she’s dressed like a queen». The second woman to inspire Maria Grazia for the Resort collection is Mary the virgin or the rituals around her. Who would have thought that you could express faith with fashion? In Seville, the cult of the Madonna of Macarena is highly preserved. Churches of each area celebrate her in unique, personal ways.

She is personified, becoming like a member of the family. «This idea of a community, this kind of party in the street, touched me because it reminds me so much of Italy. Especially and southern Italy when I was young», empathizes the Italian designer. There is a particular room in the church acting as a wardrobe, statues of the Madonna being prepared with sumptuous fabrics and eclectic dresses for each ceremony. 

«It’s unbelievable, the way clothes are linked with the representation of her». Even more astonishing is how this habit of dressing up a statue transpassed generations, never ceasing to impact the relationship people would build with a biblical figure.

A new link between Dior and equestrian themes or silhouettes takes the Seville square by storm, now hinting at one of the most famous female matadors, Lea Vicens, performing while on a horse. And the archive references won’t stop at this. We see a gracious golden modification of the famous Bar Suit of 1947 alongside high-waisted princess dresses similar in the nylon lace neckline detail as the original Eugine gown.

I wanted to feel like a fiesta

Evantails are a statement piece of the Resort collection. But even this element fascinated Dior long before Maria Grazia Chiuri when he designed the Evantail cocktail dress in 1953. Cape-sleeved jackets trace back to the French couturier Tuileries in mousquetaire black and red. In the bag department, we spot tassel-adorned handbags akin to the black velour hat of ostrich and jet-bead trimmed brush of the house (1953).

Headpieces aren’t missing from this resort either. Designed by Fernandez Y Roche, a specialized sombrero atelier from Seville. The hats draw aesthetic inspiration from the photos of the Duchess of Alba riding with Jackie Kennedy. Local Artisans like Maria Jose Sanchez and Javier Menacho Guisano ideated two other resort collection key pieces. Examples are the Manila Shawls and the emblematic Saddle Bag.

«Soul made flash» is how to dance critique Sebastián Gasch used to describe Carmen Amaya’s dance exhibitions. Maybe Maria Grazia Chiuri was aiming for the same spirit of the show. Staging emotions reincarnated into garment matter. «I wanted it to feel like a fiesta. I think handmade fashion is a bit like performing art, so why not mix different types of art together?»

Dior Resort 2022/2023

From clothes to set design, the Dior Resort 2023 fashion show pays homage to Andalusian imagery. From fashion to music to film; in the heart of the city; with the front row overlooking the ornate bridges and arcades of Plaza De España.

Maria Hristina Agut

The writer does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article.