There’s much one can romanticize from fairy tales: princesses locked high in towers waiting to be rescued, princes on white horses racing across the countryside with a glass slipper, frogs waiting to be kissed so they can turn into royals. But there’s also a dark side — one with wolves dressed as grannies, beasts tearing through castles, women being cursed, locked up and hidden away. It’s the latter mood that Maria Grazia Chiuri tapped into for Dior‘s Fall 2021 collection, taking these fantasies and turning them on their head.
A video by Fabien Baron shot at Versailles Palace called “Disturbing Beauty” (I actually prefer the false-friend translation from French, “Deranged Beauty,” though I know it isn’t technically correct) sets the vibe, with women stalking across forest grounds and stomping through the famous Hall of Mirrors.
It can be hard to do fairy tale without leaning twee, but Chiuri pulls it off by focusing on the tougher aspects of the heroines who populate those stories, drawing from toy solider uniforms, Angela Carter’s “Little Red Riding Hood” and Jean Cocteau’s “Beauty and the Beast.” The collection is heavy on the black and white pieces — a big trend for Fall 2021 — with shots of red on coats and in rose motifs, a requisite nod to Mr. Christian Dior himself. Combined with strong shapes (sharply-tailored coats, crisp shirting, uniform-ready pinafores), it keeps the flashier aspects of princess dressing at bay. After all, customers with deep pockets can try the Spring 2021 couture collection for that.
There’s a rough-around-the-edges quality to the shorn knits, the lace-up boots and the laser-cut leather seen throughout the line. If you’re into a more ladylike vibe, Dior has you covered there too, with knife-pleated full skirts and scarves tied over the hair. No doubt shoppers will appreciate the more relaxed pieces, like a leopard-print bomber jacket with shearling pockets. And like Pierpaolo Piccioli, her former counterpart at Valentino, Chiuri is clearly feeling for the allure of miniskirts again.
This being Dior, eveningwear is a part of the mix as well. Standouts include a full-sleeved gown mimicking a checkerboard floor, with roses tumbling down the skirt, and a red tulle gown with a bust cut in the shape of a heart. Dior’s fairy princess might not need rescuing, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t still a romantic.
See the complete Dior Fall 2021 collection in the gallery below: