Dior chose “A Cabinet of Curiosities” as its name for its 2022-2023 Ready to Wear collection. “Cabinet of Curiosities” is a phrase to describe collections of objects in a room. A cabinet, was the early term for a room. Curiosities describe a mix of strange and wonderful objects from the natural world, sometimes fake. Eventually, these rooms became the first museums.
But how does this relate to the new Dior collection? Dior’s models are presented in oxblood red rooms resembling frames. They sit or face the camera, unsmiling and as still as objects. They resemble the portraits of the women who adorned the room of Mariella Bettineschi’s exhibition. This exhibition formed the backdrop of the défilé. Dior has presented a more conservative aesthetic than some of the other large fashion houses. It’s 2022-2023 RTW collection features shirt dresses, spring florals, and subdued colours.
Women throughout history have been presented as ornamental objects. While women have stared down at us from the portraits of ages gone by, this distance in both time and culture has captivated audiences. The mystique surrounding women and their gaze in portraits like Mona Lisa has entranced the world.
Dior Feminism – A New Era
In the past, feminists sought to free women from these places, but Dior tells us that they are leading the way for a new era. This feminism accepts the history of women as valid. No longer will there be attempts to rewrite the past. It does not present a flawed representation of women in need of correcting. No longer will we stand in judgment on the way women have been seen throughout history. Instead, we will focus on what she herself sees when she looks at us. This will bring us into the present, because the women of the past are looking at me. So what does that ‘me’ look like?
The world has become a sombre place and Dior reflects this. Dior uses corsetry, traditionally used as a symbol of oppression, and makes it okay. It just reflects a time when we all might have to restrict ourselves a little till the world gets better again. A ristretto for fashion, of sorts.
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