Haute couture 2022: the return of the spectacular
By Eva Morletto08 février 2022
The revaluation of art craftsmanship is at the heart of 2022 Spring-Summer haute couture collections. The spectacular is returning to shed the light on savoir-faire that remained in the shadows.
This year, one of the many Parisian haute couture dates took place at the Rodin museum. In the French gardens of this 18th century townhouse, the Maison Dior showcased its new 2022 Spring-Summer collection. The pavilion, which was specially built for the occasion, was decorated in works of the Indian artist Madhvi and Manu Parekh, whose works have among others been influenced by Paul Klee and Francesco Clemente. Inspired by rural art of different Indian regions, they question the meaning of tradition and of spirituality in their country, as well as the symbolic power of gods.
An artistic choice which Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri wanted to value at all costs in her new Haute Couture collection. Her creations shed the light on the unbreakable link between art and artisanship and ancient savoir-faire, but often cast in the shadows.
Revaluing forgotten artisanship
Choosing between two artists inspired by rural art craftsmanship is a decision which goes hand in hand with the showcase of traditional manufactures, a know-how which is passed down from generation to generation. But this choice is not limited to ethical reasons.
Several times, Maria Grazia Chiuri noticed the crucial importance of artisans which gravitates around the world of fashion and specifically haute couture. An economic valuation which is often not sufficiently supported by institutions. Textile artisanship, including in Italy, of which Maria Grazia Chiuri is a native, is often left to women. A poorly paid, poorly considered and poorly codified activity.
Manufactured labor is often less valued than intellectual labor, and therefore less supported and less paid
Maria Grazia Chiuri, creative director at Dior
While France is an exception, as French culture has always valued artisanship and crafts, the situation is very different abroad. Italy’s supplier network in the textile industry for example is the most powerful in the world. Yet, an important loophole exists: the lack of institutional recognition, scope of work and salary valuation. Third country to export textile products after China and India, and with over 80,000 small and mid-range companies in the sector, Italy is having difficulty valuing its craftsmanship, while its economic weight overcomes tourism.
According to Maria Grazia Chiuri “manufactured labor is often less valued than intellectual labor, and therefore less supported and less paid.” Consequentially, the valuation of curriculums in the textile sector and trainings of young talents are less promoted.
Yet since her arrival at the head of artistic creation in 2017, Maria Grazia Chiuri has not stopped valuing the incredible craftmanship heritage of the ateliers which work for Dior. Her objective: to magnify them in this immense potential to create an unbreakable link between art, artisanship, and fashion. And the presented models during the fashion show are its sublime embodiment. Night gowns, embroideries and organza were majestically crafted, decorated with pearls and precious stones. These new precious codes were revealed even on stockings, decorated with sparkles and transformed into true leg jewelry.
But the bet of textile craft valuation was far from being reserved to Dior. Schiaparelli caught the eye, thanks to the talented and remarkable stylist Daniel Roseberry. The iconic Parisian house, which belongs today to the famous Italian entrepreneur Diego Della Valle (at the head of the Tod’s group totaling over 637 million euros in turnover in 2020) once again reworked its surreal universe as Elsa Schiaparelli worked several times with Salvador Dalì, and the world of art. Embroiderers, tanners, featherers, jewelers, leather workers and hat makers surpassed themselves for this 2022 collection.
At the Petit Palais were showcased beautiful skeleton dresses, futuristic shapes like Saturn rings, ancient vestal capes, hats, black feathered headdresses, sublime sleeves, and Apollon de Versailles embroideries. Everything was highlighted by a chromatic pallet focusing on purity and the essentials: white, black, and gold. Thirty-two haute couture artworks, jewel-dresses where leather was sculpted and covered in 24-carat gold are a major savoir-faire demonstration in jewelry and leatherworking.
There is no doubt that Haute Couture is becoming the ambassador of this branch of crafts. Fashion economy will certainly benefit from it.
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