Dior couture: surrealism and chess

by Diana Mihajlova
3/3/2018 – Chess has been presented in various art forms throughout the centuries. The chess surreal, mysterious quality has been embraced in the visual arts, literature, music and particularly the fashion. Our own chess queens (and sometimes kings, cavalry and soldiers), often make fashion statements with chess-themed garments and accessories. Diana Mihajlova explores the Spring-Summer collections and their chess inspiration. | Pictured: The interior stage, with chess patterns and hanging body parts, accentuated House of Dior's chosen theme: surrealism

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Christian Dior's chess connection

From the end of January through early March is usually the time when fashion designers parade their Spring-Summer collections on the catwalks of London, Paris, Milan, New York, Tokyo, among others. This year, the chess enthusiasts will be happy to know that chess has found its place in the creations of none other than the doyen of world fashion, Christian Dior couture.

The chess motif was evident throughout the Dior show for their Spring-Summer 2018 collection presented in Paris on January 22nd. Already at the entrance of their venue, the grounds of the Musée Rodin, the visitors were met with a giant wall and a pavement of black and white chess boards.

The entrance

The entrance

Dior chess dressFrom this ethereal walk-in, once through the camouflaged door, Maria Grazia Chiuri, the Artistic Director of the Dior’s women’s collection, regaled the guests with a dream show in which simplicity, glory and luxury merged into one through the black and white ‘coulours’.

Christian Dior set up new parameters of elegance ever since his first appearance on the fashion scene in the far 1947. The Dior House celebrated 70 years of creativity, 1947-2017, with a show that finished recently at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris.

Maria Grazia Chiuri has been entrusted to carry on his legacy becoming Dior’s first female artistic director in 2016 (previously she was head of the womenswear collections at Valentino.)

She remains faithful to her famous predecessor’s interest in the modern art which has been the footprint of Dior’s artistic expression. She dedicated her spring-summer 2018 show to the Italian-Argentinean surrealist painter Leonor Fini (1907 – 1996). 

Leonor Fini paintings

Leonor Fini’s paintings The Fairy (1955) and Return Journey2 (1982) | www.leonor-fini.com

Christian Dior started his work career as an art dealer. His gallery offered its space mainly to representatives of surrealism. Leonor Fini at the time was a young, audacious artist whose career started in the pre-war Paris thanks to Christian Dior who gave her a first public exposure in his gallery.

Dior with Dali and friends

Christian Dior (far left) and friends: Gala and Salvador Dali, Tony Sandro (or Jacques Benita) and Victor Grandpierre | Photo: madparis.fr

The women’s freedom and power, including the women’s spiritual power, is Chiuri’s artistic preoccupation. In her first show as Dior’s chief designer, in September 2016, some of her creations were emblazoned with the motto: ‘We Should All Be Feminists’. In her latest show she was guided by Leonor Fini’s statement, ‘Only the inevitable theatricality of my life interests me’, which she further elaborated in her own words: “There’s nothing more fake than being natural’.

Maria Grazia Chiuri, interview | Christian Dior channel on YouTube

With the exception of some occasional splash of colour here and there, the show was entirely in the sign of black and white, either in combination or solely white or solely black ensembles.  

Dior group photo

Apart from the chess theme, other decorative elements were also applied, like the domino rectangles with their dots.

chess and domino

Dior, chess and domino

When art and imagination are put together in a surreal, daring reality, chess is most certainly a welcome addition, which Maria Grazia Chiuri had beautifully incorporated in her latest Spring — Summer 2018 collection.

Dior detail

Dior detail

All photos, unless stated otherwise, were provided and reproduced courtesy of House of Dior’s Digital Communications Press Office


A former university lecturer in Romance philology, she is currently a painter as well as a chess journalist, and reports regularly from the international tournament scene.


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