As much as I love my wardrobe, it does have its limitations. The foremost is that my closet is really just a corner of a slightly larger closet that I call “my apartment.” Space is a hot commodity at my place. Every time I buy something new, I have to give something else away or rotate it into storage. Each time I pull out one sweater, all the rest have to fall on my head. Another glaring flaw? My closet tragically does not contain any couture. Jeans on the floor? I’ve got those in spades. Swarovski crystals, hand-stitched suede, and trains of tulle? None to be found, despite my constant attempts to mentally manifest them into being.
In spite of this reality, I decided to try my hand at recreating looks from legendary couture house Christian Dior because, well, stumped for inspiration this month, I polled my mom for ideas and during the 24 years I’ve known the woman, she hasn’t been wrong. Well, that and the fact that perhaps no other brand in existence today boasts such a rich history of talents at its helm. The legendary Mssr. Dior himself, Yves Saint Laurent, and many other now-iconic designers paved a veritable Hollywood Boulevard of fashion celebrity within the house of Dior. In 2016, Maria Grazia Chiuri took the reigns as the first female director of Dior and has managed to simultaneously extend and upend the brand’s tradition of making the finest of formalwear.
Below, I’ve paid homage to four of Chiuri’s finest runway moments and one Christian Dior classic, because what discussion of Dior would be complete without reference to the revolutionary New Look? With some trepidation (and not just because my sweater stack was looking precarious), I reached for my closet door, uneasy about the thought of reinterpreting couture with my comparatively pedestrian trappings. But! Necessity is the mother of invention…right? Scroll on and let me know.
#1: Suit, Tie, Swim Cap, Spring 2019 Couture
While the existence of contemporary couture itself is polarizing (is it an outmoded, overpriced system or the last true bastion of capital-F fashion?), it is universally agreed upon that wearing a suit and tie in place of a ballgown is cool. The one I have on here I purchased at H&M several years ago, before I swore off fast fashion of any kind. It fit just how I wanted it to without any tailoring, which is a testament to the fact that perhaps couture is just a state of mind. This is certainly the only time I’ve ever regretted disposing of my shiny blue elementary school swim cap, though I’m not mad about the Old Hollywood touch a neatly knotted scarf provides. This scarf keeps appearing in my columns, and I didn’t realize until now that it may just be the hardest-working item in my wardrobe!
#2: Another Suit With a Beret on Top, Fall 2018 Couture
Okay, mine isn’t a beret. It’s a Tam o’ shanter, a tribute to my college years spent in Scotland, made by one of my absolute favorite brands, Le Kilt, that makes all their items to order using local wool mills in Scotland. Also, I clearly just can’t resist any type of accessory that perches atop my head. I recently snapped up this suit at A Current Affair, a traveling vintage fair, because it combines my two favorite clothing accoutrements: scalloped edges and daisies. Dior’s look is decidedly a bit more serious than mine, but, hey, I’ll get my kicks where I can.
#3: Evening Hoodie, Spring 2018 Couture
I’m almost glad I didn’t see this look until after my wedding, but it’s not like I would actually get married in a hoodie…would I? I also regrettably did not have time to festoon the entirety of my outfit with floral-feathery appliqués, so I’ll consider my version of this look the more everyday option–something to wear to your own wedding and then to a meeting, if you will.
#4: Patchwork, Fall 2018 Ready-to-Wear
I scored both components of this outfit on a recent visit to Paris, but it didn’t occur to me to pair them together until I perused some Dior runway photos. The tone-on-tone patchwork reads more ladylike than still-yearning-for-the-seventies, making it an approachable introduction to the trend. I liked this outfit so much that I wore it several times this past week (a rarity for me, a dignified outfit non-repeater), dressed up with glittery loafers for the Leandra x Mango launch and dressed down with a varsity sweater thrown over the whole shebang for a day of errands.
#5: My New Look
I tend to dislike the phrase “timeless” when used to describe clothing. The term seems to imply an ability to predict the future of fashion while ignoring the fact that aspects of any look, from its fabrics to its accompanying makeup and hairstyle, are inextricably embedded in the time period during which they were created. However, there are silhouettes that lend themselves to reinterpretation from decade to decade, and while I would still be hesitant to call such looks timeless, there’s a certain… historical flexibility to them. The New Look, designed by Christian Dior in 1947, is one such silhouette. More than half a century after its original design, the combination of a blazer with a nipped-in waist and a pleated skirt still feels fresh and decidedly powerful. For 2019, I’ve added some mixed animal print and forgone the hat because, as much as I love a hair accessory, I just can’t get behind that one.
Over the course of the week or so that I spent brainstorming and writing about these looks, I found myself feeling even more inspired than usual. Poring over years of Dior’s fashion history made me want to outdo my own history. I dressed up even more than usual, with blazers, faux furs, and big, full skirts. I had expected to feel limited by my wardrobe, but I instead felt amazed by its capacity to rise to the challenges imposed by couture.
It’s nice to feel that sense of self-one-upsmanship in fall, when there’s still the crisp, invigorating back-to-school promise that this year you’ll build yourself into something better than you were the year before. It’s preferable still to try and hold on to this feeling as the holiday season approaches with ever-tempting advertisements promising that what you and your loved ones really need this year is the latest, luxest novelties–not to mention a new outfit for all the impending parties. My goal over the next few months is to shop less but also to want less. I know that I can create an abundant supply of festive fineries with what I already have on hand.
If you were thinking of sending me a little something, though, I’d love a dollhouse. I think it’ll look great with tights.