"Is it a man or a woman? It's neither one nor the other — it's a clown."
That's how the show notes to Dior's spring 2019 haute couture show began. And if you haven't read Le Costume de Clown Blanc: Gérard Vicaire, la Passion Pour Seul Habit by Sylvie Nguimfack-Perault, the très French novel the quote came from, you may have been confused. The point is, Maria Grazia Chiuri's latest collection for Dior was inspired by the circus. As it's been for a lot of Dior collections, in fact. From Christian Dior himself and Richard Avedon's iconic Dovima with Elephants portrait (in which a Dior-clad model poses at a circus), to John Galliano's recurring circus themes, spectacle and magic are a part of the label's DNA. Chiuri's recent, excellent showing continued and elevated this tradition.
Though the show occurred in Paris earlier this week, we still can't get our mind off of it. The "creative chaos" employed by Chiuri brought the kind of theatrics back to Dior that were missing from the restrained and practical Raf Simons era. Think: opaque, sequined tutus, couture swim caps (we told you those were a thing), feminine yet clown-like ruffles, and patterns that evoke some sort of chic jester — more daring and serious than whimsical. It was one of the longer couture shows, rounding out to 68 looks, but it was one of the most intricate, too.
It's why, even several days later, we're still parsing through the images from the presentation. To help us do that, Dior has lent exclusive backstage images that paint a picture of the calm before the storm. From Adut Akech to Jia Li, the models await their turn on Chiuri's multicolored runway. And though you may not have sat under Dior's spring 2019 haute couture tent to take it all in (yes, that's a thing), consider this your front row seat to the magic.