The crossover between fashion and dance has always been strong. Gareth Pugh and Jasper Conran have both created costumes for The Royal Ballet, while Riccardo Tisci, during his tenure at Givenchy, created the looks for the 2013 production of Bolero at the Paris Opera.
At London dance theatre Sadler's Wells, Dries Van Noten and Alexander McQueen dressed the troupes for productions in 2017 and 2009 respectively. So, it is no shock, then, to learn that Dior’s women’s creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri has done the same. What is surprising is that it has taken her so long.
Chiuri has a long-standing interest in dance and the movement of the body. For her spring/summer 2019 collection for Dior, she teamed up with Israeli dance company L-E-V, which performed on the runway for the duration of the show.
Fast-forward to today, and Chiuri has once again joined forces with the company, and its choreographer Sharon Eyal. For the recent production Chapter 3: The Brutal Journey of the Heart, at Sadler's Wells theatre in London, Chiuri created all of the dancers' looks.
For the piece, Chiuri dressed nine dancers in flesh-toned bodysuits — each matched to the dancer’s skin tone — that were covered with drawings of flowers and foliage, and with a red heart positioned on the chest. With the imagery coiling around the limbs and torsos of the dancers, it deliberately blurs where costume ends and person begins. Seemingly naked at first glance, the dancers appear as if covered in tattoos or markings made directly on their skin.
Speaking with Wallpaper magazine about the collaboration, Chiuri said: "Sharon Eyal and I have established a partnership that is pivotal to the focus of my work."
"Reflecting with Eyal on what the choreography should convey, the bodies, and the movement of the dancers, become an exploration into the meaning of fashion, which produces objects that are, structurally speaking, closest to the body."
The idea of covering dancers in drawings seems like a natural direction for Chiuri, who has been experimenting with a similar idea since she took over the house in September 2016.
For her resort 2018 collection, the designer had illustrations stitched across transparent net dresses that made the drawings seem to float around the wearer. Meanwhile, the spring/summer 2018 show, itself based on the work of sculptor Nicky de Saint Phalle, had the artist's drawings carefully replicated on to barely there tulle.