Dior designer Maria Grazia Chiuri has never made a secret of her love for tarot and the spiritual. But while earlier in her work for Valentino (together with Pierpaolo Piccioli) this only had a subliminal influence, she let this passion run free later in her work for Dior.
However, this only happened after she discovered in the archives of the fashion house that Christian Dior himself was supposed to have been a big tarot fan and always put cards first before important fashion shows and decisions. This is exactly what Maria Grazia Chirui did to him on the eve of her new digital haute couture presentation (that was of course recorded on Instagram).
In 2017, Dior even opened tarot pop-up stores to celebrate the Resort 2018 collection, which featured tarot motifs. The show for it had taken place in Los Angeles at the time, a city where just about anyone who is self-respecting visits a psychic or healer from time to time, knows their zodiac chart and at least deals with spirituality in some way.
Since then, tarot motifs and other spiritual themes have appeared again and again in designs by Maria Grazia Chiuri. She must have also confirmed that, like Christian Dior, she is Aquarius – and, according to certain New Age esoterics, we are supposedly living in the Age of Aquarius.
«The Tarot Castle» by Matteo Garron
As clearly as now in the digital staging of her haute couture collection for summer 2021, Maria Grazia Chiuri has seldom implemented her passion for tarot. The whole fashion film was dedicated to the mystical cards, their characters and meanings. “The Tarot Castle” was the title of Matteo Garrone’s film, in which the actress Agnese Claisse took the lead role (Maria Grazia Chiuri is Italian in Paris, Claisse is French in Rome – a nice coincidence, the Chiuri, who is certainly in fate and believes not coincidence, should have fallen).
While Dior cited the “Motherpeace” tarot card deck in the context of the 2017 pop-up stores (a feminist set developed by the healers Vicki Noble and Karen Vogel in the 1970s), Maria Grazia Chiuri has now awakened the most important Figures and meanings of the classic tarot in different characters come to life.
The fool was embodied as well as the high priestess, the moon and justice, the sun and the wheel of fortune. While actress and model Agnese Claisse discovered this in the Tarot Castle after she asked who she was, she kept developing herself into other characters.
And that is what is really exciting about the production: in a classic Dior costume, with a pillbox hat and a fascinator net, she walks into the gate; afterwards her character becomes a mystical being with pink hair and an imaginatively embroidered dress, then again a matter-of-fact, androgynous figure in a suit and with a pixie hairstyle.
Haute couture satisfies the longing for fantasy
She, her journey through the castle and the tarot characters around it symbolically show the power of haute couture to develop a whole world with fashion that is as far away from our world as it can be. Haute couture had become more realistic in recent years – but now everyday life in a pandemic is likely to encourage the longing for fantasy, for the inexplicable, for mysticism, for magic, no matter what it looks like.
Maria Grazia Chiuri hits this nerve with her haute couture collection. Even before the pandemic, spiritual portals recorded great growth – the zodiac app “Co-Star”, for example, now has around five million users.
The “New York Times” wrote about how Silicon Valley is now investing billions in companies that are dedicated to spiritual services and how psychologists and therapists are now having to deal with the retrograde Mercury and other phenomena. Recently the BBC also reported on how the pandemic is causing a comeback of spirituality and belief.
How fashion inspires the imagination
For Dior, tarot is so interesting as a guiding theme because the cards and the history behind them span east and west, do not know any religions, but instead had their meaning and justification in various cultures. The roots of the tarot are not entirely clear, some see connections to Egyptian or Hebrew teachings, others believe the roots in Renaissance Italy, still others connect Tarot with occult-esoteric societies and the Freemasons.
But this is not about such precision. Tarot is a trend today, that much is certain, which is primarily about mindfulness – and about what everyone can learn about themselves (Maria Grazia Chiuri emphasized this again and again in interviews about her love for tarot).
The new haute couture collection is about the fact that imagination can lie anywhere. Of course, the main roles are played by the mystical robes, gold embroidered dresses and cloaks that might have just come from a portrait of Caterina de ‘Medici – the Renaissance influence is just as evident in Chiuri’s designs (the tarot deck visconti -Sforza from the 15th century was named by the designer as a reference) like inspiration from ancient Greece.
But above all, the more businesslike looks of the collection stand out: the typical new look costume, the minimalist cape, the narrow suit – sleek, modern tailoring. That too can fire the imagination, especially in these times – if you just want to see them.