Christian Dior Fall 2024 Couture | Runway
Fall 2024 Couture

Photo: Isidore Montag /

Couture has historically been about “building the body” with its corset foundations and highly structured silhouettes. “But I don’t want to build the body, I want to release it,” Maria Grazia Chiuri said today. That’s as clear a manifesto for Chiuri’s work at Christian Dior as she’s ever uttered, and the reason she is the most modern couturier working today.

On the eve of the Paris Olympics, her idea was to recast sportswear through a couture lens. Her very first collection at Dior was dedicated to fencing. Here, she married Ancient Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics, with the 1924 Games, when women were fighting to be taken seriously as athletes and also, thanks to the Industrial Revolution and the invention of jersey fabric, adopting new forms of dress better adapted to the movements required for sports. She called out Alice Milliat, a rower whose tireless advocacy helped get women’s track and field competitions into the 1928 Olympics.

We take for granted now the comfort of jog bras and leggings, but 100 years ago we were still wearing corsets to ride bikes. It’s puzzling that corsets and constraint are still such common sights in the highest echelons of clothes making. In this regard, at least, couture earns its long held reputation as the old-world, even dusty, part of the fashion business. But not Chiuri’s Dior.

She returned to the peplos, a traditional draped garment Dior himself cut in chiffon; Chiuri pointed to a ravishing photograph of just such a dress from 1948. Hers were constructed in silk jersey or metal jersey, and instead of anchoring them to a corset, she used embroidered tank tops and bodysuits that utterly changed the attitude. Though they remained formal, they looked free, a quality enhanced by the models’ strappy skimmer sandals. Maybe you couldn’t wear them for the high jump—one of the track and field competitions added in 1928—but I bet you could throw the javelin, a sport that was only added to official competition later.

“Couture gives me the opportunity to move these references, our heritage, into new territory,” Chiuri said. “Wellness, comfort, and beauty—I think these three elements are very important in our work. But sometimes fashion is more obsessed with the silhouette or the construction than the material. I want to do clothes where the body stays well, and can move freely.”

Pantsuits in white moiré and black velvet with a peplos suspended from the waistband of the trousers caught some of that relaxed but still polished vibe, as did a day dress in black silk cady with a hand-scalloped bib. But the evening dresses were the thing here. An asymmetrical dress in gold lamé pleated by hand and suspended from a leather strap gets the collection’s gold medal.