The fashion luxury brand Dior explores the intersection of tarot and dress in their 2021 spring-summer collection. The collection was presented in a video during Paris’s Haute Couture Week due to the pandemic; in doing so, the designers were able to showcase its many tarot elements effectively and intensely.
The 2021 spring collection premiered on January 25 in a short, 15-minute film titled Le Château du Tarot, which begins with a woman laying out cards for a tarot reading for a young client. Both are wearing classic Dior. The young client is instructed to select a card.
As the card is upturned, the collection is introduced in a series of images that hold a tarot card as its central subject, but laced with celestial, quasi-spiritual sequences and magical motifs. There are hints of the classics, astrology, and nods to modern culture like Netflix’s Bridgerton.
The cards and the imagery will be comfortable and familiar to The Wild Hunt’s readership. The collection uses much of the major arcana and the symbolism is reverently displayed.
The video, directed by Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone, is elegant, if not mesmerizing. The plot is simple – just the act of moving though a house whose rooms hold personifications of tarot cards does the job of spotlighting the fashion collection while honoring the role of the models. Garrone says in “Discover the Making Of Le Château du Tarot” that his intent was to create a fusion of cinema and fashion through “a magical, mystical world similar to Alice in Wonderland of a young woman on a voyage of self-discovery.”
Maria Grazia Chiuri is the Italian fashion designer behind the new collection. She is currently the creative director at Christian Dior SE and the first woman to lead the creative side of the fashion house in its history.
In her debut collection after being named the new creative director, Chiuri turned to the tarot for inspiration. She sprinkled tarot symbolism in various skirts in her 2017 collection, which hearkened back to the 1940s and 50s when Dior was in its heyday. But the symbolism there was obscure, found in the layers of ankle-length tuille ballerina skirts and the occasional accessory of jewelry and masks.
In 2018, Chiuri returned to tarot symbolism in Dior’s resort collection. Borrowing with permission from the Motherpeace Round Tarot Deck by Karen Vogel and Vicki Noble, Chiuri embedded tarot cards like Death, the five of swords, the priestess of wands, and the Tower within the casual dresses. Chiuri told Vogue Runway that “Vicki [Noble] wrote that women have to be in contact with their real nature, not let others define us. We have to work so we can define [ourselves] alone, and that was very interesting for me.
“Women have lost this idea to feel and to believe in our instincts,” Chiri said about the collection in 2018. “Education and having a family gives you the idea that you have to do what is right to do, not what you feel. And I want to feel.”
For the 2021 collection, Chiuri wanted to go further into the theme of self-exploration, and more specifically the rejection of a binary world. Chiuri told The Guardian that “there is one school of thought that says tarot cards are about the future, but the point of view that fascinates me says that they help you to learn about yourself.”
Chiuri is not oblivious to the pandemic’s impact either, citing it as the reason she looked to the magic of the tarot. “What was nice for me about the tarot,” Chiuri told Runway Vogue, “is that when you are in a difficult moment, something that is magical can help us, to help us think better.
“It’s a long time we’ve all been staying alone,” she added. “You think much more about many aspects of yourself and your life. That’s my belief: this year changed us a lot.”
The use of tarot has a rich history with Christion Dior. Its eponymous founder “discovered tarot in the Second World War, when his sister Catherine, who was part of the French Resistance, disappeared,” according to Chiuri. “In my view, I think he was so scared about her situation that he probably went to the tarot cards to try to know some more, to hope that she would come back. I think he was very worried; trying to find hope in some signs.”
Chiuri said to Reuters that tarot “can help you not to be afraid of something you don’t know.”
Christian Dior is not blind to the financial side, though. Chiuri noted in her interviews that they “tried to make the best of it for the supply chain too. We have to maintain the tradition of embroidery in Paris.”
Top luxury brands have weathered the pandemic well despite pressure that they are often symbols of, if not actors in, global economic inequality. They have jealously preserved their status, as well as their supply chains. Louis Vuitton, partially owned by Christian Dior SE, succeeded in raising its prices, and Christian Dior prices were up some 11% in targeted markets.
As for the dresses, they are indeed haute couture and can only be purchased from Dior. They also carry a price tag reflecting their status. Each dress is made to order and costs about USD $130,000 each (€105,000).