Maria Grazia Chiuri, artistic director of Dior, presents the Spring/Summer 2021 Haute Couture collection–which pays tribute to the obsession of Monsieur Dior–with clairvoyants through a selection of looks influenced by the mediaeval Visconti-Sforza tarot decks hand-painted for the rulers of the Duchy of Milan in the mid-15th century and reinterpreted here by the Italian artist Pietro Ruffo.
The couturier was known to be extremely superstitious and a regular visitor to clairvoyants for tarot reading, especially before each of his shows. He favored the number 8—his atelier was founded in the 8th district of Paris—and he believed in destiny and chance.
In the opening scene of the high fashion short film “Le Château du Tarot” directed by Matteo Garrone, a clairvoyant shuffles a deck of cards and asks her visitor, “What would you like to know?” to which the young woman replies, “Who am I?”
Upon picking the card of the High Priestess, the woman is transported into a magical world where she encounters the 15 figures of the Visconti-Sforza tarots as she tries to find her real self in the somber rooms of a mysterious castle. At the end of the film, the main character experiences a form of rebirth as her feminine and masculine halves merge together in a kiss, ending her spiritual journey of self-discovery.
Like in Dior’s previous shows helmed by Chiuri since her appointment in 2016—especially the Dior Cruise 2018 collection inspired by Motherpeace’s feminist tarot cards designed by Karen Vogel and Vicki Noble in the 1970s—there is an incorporation of iconography and symbolism from the esoteric world of tarots directly onto the fashion.
Long hand-pleated dresses in silk lamé and gauze; draped dresses in velvet, chenille or chiffon; embroidered coats with crystal jewel applications, feathers, or flowers; and gold jacquard trousers all recall the aristocratic taste and opulent lifestyle of the Visconti-Sforza families. Each of the tarot cards is represented by a couture ensemble, from a golden jacquard dress for Temperance to two women in chenille gowns for The Lovers.