Dior’s Latest Haute Couture Collection Pays Tribute to the Olympics

Haute Couture is Created on the Body 

Anticipation and excitement are high in Paris as the city prepares to host the 2024 Summer Olympics. The monumental arrival of the games enticed Dior’s Creative Director, Maria Grazia Chirui, to pay tribute to all athletes in this collection, explicitly spotlighting their journeys in overcoming various prejudices and obstacles regarding equality in sports. To do so, she returned to a fundamental style she holds dear—the peplum, thought to be both supple and absolute. 

To truly channel that athletic element, pleats are sewn down or open to accompany movement, and materials often rejected in couture pieces, such as jerseys, are utilized. The material is creatively “made” couture by adorning gold leaves or micro sequins. Remarkably, in combining these two polarizing elements—sportswear and couture— Chirui highlighted themes of classism, rebellion, and collective energy, where the elegance of couture can still allow women to coexist between delicate and strong. With an underlining tone of feminism fuelling the collection, Chirui hopes to exude that a woman can perform just as well as a man.  

In Memory of Faith Ringold 

Artist, feminist, activist, and educator Faith Ringgold (who passed away on April 12, 2024, at the age of 93) challenged perceptions of African American identity and gender inequality for almost seven decades. Faith Ringgold was artistically honoured through the scenography during the Dior Haute Couture show, where her political paintings, mosaics, and posters were spotlighted. Works from Freedom Woman Now and Woman Free Yourself come together to shine a light on black feminist activism. Faith Ringgold believed in using one’s voice as a tool for social change, and Dior’s platform channeled that belief by honouring her advocacy efforts. 

Bringing these two powerful worlds of Faith Ringgold and Maria Grazia Chirui together documents a commonality and undertone of female empowerment, hoping to ignite a powerful call to action for gender equality. True to her commitment to celebrating the work of women artists, Maria Grazia Chiuri pursues a long-term exploration of the great names of feminist art history and younger generations. In fact, this isn’t the first time Faith Ringgold’s work was showcased at a Dior show. 

Activism and Athleticism Colliding 

The Dior couture collection “comes to life against the backdrop of hard-won freedom for women’s bodies,” as detailed by the show notes. With activism and athleticism at the epicenter of the looks, it’s no coincidence that the show occurred at Musée Rodin, a location adjacent to where the Olympic archery competitions are set to be hosted. 

Remarkably, the pull towards sports is familiar territory for Maria Grazia Chirui. Her first Dior collection in 2016 drew influence from fencing attire, where fencing jackets and “we should all be feminist” tees conquered the catwalk. This year, in exploring the ties between performance and clothing, creative ensembles of draped skirts that revealed a pair of pants hidden behind each step and draped silk dresses reflect that relationship. 

Ancient Ties 

The Olympic games were born in Ancient Greece, and the looks emulate that reference point. With drapey white goddess dresses opening the three looks for the show, you see this motif come alive. Bringing the toga silhouette to couture, gold, bronze, and silver jewelry compliment the delicate fabric with leather belts and straps to proportionate the looks. Having these white draped silk fabrics on top of metallic jersey tank’s is an unlikely pairing, but brings that intersection of athleticwear and couture that Maria Grazia Chirui sought after to the forefront of fashion.