Inside a big top, Dior puts on circus-themed couture

PARIS (AP) — Dior drew inspiration from the top of the big top for a playful couture show held on Monday in Paris, where models inside a circus-style tent walked through a human arch made of moving acrobats.

The theme seemed to well serve designer Maria Grazia Chiuri, who has struggled to fly in recent seasons.

The acrobatics also dovetailed with some of the recent film roles of Dior’s VIP guest, British actress Felicity Jones, who explained all to The Associated Press.

Here are some highlights of Monday’s spring-summer 2019 couture collections in Paris.

DIOR CIRCUS

Hundreds of vintage light bulbs like the ones used at fairgrounds lit up Dior’s life-sized circus and a giant wooden pole held up the big top. Guests at the show inside the Rodin Museum gardens gawped at the decor.

A model presents a creation by Christian Dior as acrobats perform during the 2019 Spring-Summer Haute Couture collection fashion show in Paris. – AP

Acrobats dressed in the black-and-white costumes of Pierrot, the clown character from French pantomime, entered the stage area on each other’s shoulders to begin the whimsical collection that riffed on the circus theme.

Dior has had a long history with the big top — from a famous 1955 photo shoot with elephants in Paris’ Winter Circus to the circus theme picked for one of former designer John Galliano’s most memorable shows.

And the circus seems to have provided Chiuri, who’s struggled to take off since taking Dior’s creative helm in 2016, the perfect muse to unlock her creativity.

It was light and fun, without being heavy-handed or overly literal.

A model in a chic sequined helmet wore a white origami skirt inspired by a clown’s ruff and featuring a slightly dropped waist.

A clown’s multi-coloured costume spawned a fantastic knitted tulle playsuit with a stylish Juliette sleeve — a shape repeated throughout the 68-look collection.

Another tulle jumpsuit sported a multi-coloured streak in satin bands and dramatically square shoulders.

It was worn atop a “tattooed” body suit that conjured up images of Victorian-era circus performers, one of many details that gave this collection a historic depth.

FELICITY JONES ON ACROBATS

Felicity Jones spoke to the AP from under Dior’s big top and said she coincidentally she had just finished playing an acrobat for a movie called The Aeronauts that reunited with The Theory of Everything co-star Eddie Redmayne.

“This set is so fitting. It’s obviously in the air,” she said, smiling.

The feminist edge Chiuri has brought to Dior since becoming the first female designer in house history also mirrored the “strong women” Jones chooses to play, including US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg in the biopic On the Basis of Sex.

“She’s a formidable woman. She’s someone who’s changed the face of gender equality in the world, so it was an enormous privilege to be playing her,” Jones added.

IRIS VAN HERPEN TAKES FLIGHT

Dutch wunderkind Iris Van Herpen’s couture took flight in the Palais de Beaux Arts in Paris’ chic Left Bank.

The show evoked winged forms and organic life, and was inspired by visual artist Kim Keever, who drops paint pigment into water.

The arty setting was an appropriate backdrop for the sculptural creations that seemed to borrow from works housed at the Louvre, located hundreds of metres away.

An organic cobalt blue gown featured bare shoulders and a pair of pleated wings that created a highly dramatic dynamic, similar to the Louvre’s famed Hellenistic sculpture, The Winged Victory of Samothrace.