Dior declares its love for Spain in a historic parade in Seville

The sun was barely visible in the Plaza de España in Seville at a quarter past ten this Thursday night. In its place, a red mantle made of half a million carnations and red roses invaded the steps of this space concocted by the architect Aníbal González in 1929. The Andalusian capital had been waiting for weeks for the appointment with Dior, and not even the heat stroke it subjected to the 900 attendees nor the impossible traffic after the Corpus Christi procession managed to diminish the expectation before a moment for the history of fashion. When the lights came on and the Betica Chamber Orchestra played the first chords of the music created by Alberto Iglesias for Pedro Almodóvar’s cinema, the French brand became the first international firm to hold a parade in Spain with a planetary vocation.

A group of dancers during the Dior parade this Thursday in Seville.
A group of dancers during the Dior parade this Thursday in Seville.Jose Manuel Vidal (EFE)

A milestone achieved for the 2023 cruise collection by its creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri —the first woman in the position since Christian Dior founded the firm in 1947—, orchestrated before an audience that watched in dead silence the group of dancers dressed in red descend the steps of the emblematic square. When the chime of the dancers Belén López and El Yiyo broke the silence with a tribute to the dancer, singer and actress Carmen Amaya, a model began the journey down the catwalk wearing a black and white manila shawl that revealed that Seville was not it was only the continent, also the content for event size.

“It’s not that I’m the first designer to discover Spain as a place of inspiration, more would be missing,” Chiuri conceded behind the scenes. “I can think of very few countries with such a deep-rooted design tradition, and with designers like Cristóbal Balenciaga in their history. But I think it was time to do it, also paying tribute to an essential guild, that of artisans, without which traditions would remain a dead letter”, explained the designer.

For the 'The Cruise 2023' collection, Maria Grazia Chiuri has worked with Sevillian and Andalusian artists and artisans.
For the ‘The Cruise 2023’ collection, Maria Grazia Chiuri has worked with Sevillian and Andalusian artists and artisans.Jose Manuel Vidal (EFE)

Seville is the sixth stopover made by Chiuri’s cruise collections since he joined the firm in July 2016. The journey began in Los Angeles (USA) in 2017 and, after stopping in Chantilly, Marrakech, the Italian town from Lecce and Athens, the designer’s formula has been consolidated with the premise that she herself describes: working together with the artisans of the places where her proposals end up.

Days before the parade, the Dior team visited religious temples such as the Macarena basilica or the Gypsy sanctuary or the Brotherhood of the O, where the most valued relics of the Sevillian brotherhoods are kept, and workshops such as the Orfebrería Ramos ( specialized in jewelry and restoration), the Carbonell fan house or María José Sánchez Espinar, third generation of women experts in the manila shawl, became accomplices of what was shown on the catwalk this Thursday to the rhythm of the violins of the orchestra or Rosalia’s music These were not literal references, much less: if the embroideries of the artisan Jesús Rosado flooded a suit of lights that will rarely be seen in a bullring, the ruffles of the exploited flamenco dress were conspicuous by their absence before the attentive gaze from an audience as disparate as Chiara Ferragni, María del Monte, Marta Ortega or Elle MacPherson. Instead, key pieces of the Andalusian imaginary such as the short men’s suit or the horse riding wardrobe were updated for the light and contemporary garments that Chiuri has been defending at Dior for five years.

A moment of the Dior parade, this Thursday in the Andalusian city.
A moment of the Dior parade, this Thursday in the Andalusian city.Miguel Morenatti (AP)

The link between Dior and Spanish culture has been forging for much longer. Already in his first collections, the founder of him baptized some of the sketches of his suits with names such as Nights of Spain (1954), Soirée in Toledo (1955) or Ball to Seville, from 1956, the same year as an image of the designer in a flamenco tablao in Granada with a group of dancers and his partner Jacques Benita. Dior would soon turn his love for Spain into a reality, bringing his designs through charity galas, the first of which was at the Ritz hotel in Madrid in 1955, orchestrated by the Duchess of Montpensier.

Detail of one of the dresses from the new Dior cruise collection.
Detail of one of the dresses from the new Dior cruise collection.MARCELO DEL POZO (REUTERS)

But the most remembered is still the one organized by Cayetana de Alba in the Liria palace in 1959, two years after the death of the founder of the house, with a very young Yves Saint Laurent among the more than 2,000 guests who saw a hundred garments worn by high-society ladies pass by. “Both that event and the one in 1967, already with Marc Bohan as designer, were not passes conceived with a global vocation, but as social events for the local market,” says Miquel Martínez, one of those responsible for the exhibition. In Madrid. A history of fashion (1940-1970), exposed until last May. All in all, it would be John Galliano who would make a more folkloric reading of Andalusian culture, using the designer Lina Fernández to weave the ruffles for his parade for the firm’s 60th anniversary, where he himself would wear a bullfighter’s suit.

Maria Grazia Chiuri, creative director of the French 'maison', greets after the parade.
Maria Grazia Chiuri, creative director of the French ‘maison’, greets after the parade.CRISTINA QUICLER (AFP)

“All countries have to deal with their topics. But there is some truth in them”, Chiuri revealed this week. The main novelty of this collection, however, has been to delve into the roots of Andalusian crafts without falling into the mere appropriation of its most deeply rooted symbols.

A model climbs the stairs of the Plaza de España in the Seville town during the parade.
A model climbs the stairs of the Plaza de España in the Seville town during the parade.MARCELO DEL POZO (REUTERS)

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