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Dior AW19 Haute Couture Penny Slinger house
Photography Christina Fragkou

Dior just sent a wearable gold doll’s house down the runway at Couture

As created in collaboration with visionary feminist artist Penny Slinger

The pièce de résistance at basically every Haute Couture show is its closing bridal look, and where some labels opt to keep things traditional, it’s obviously the wildest ones that prove the most memorable – just take Gigi Hadid’s butterfly-strewn Moschino puffball, or Kate Moss’s glittering Versace mini if you’re looking for examples. 

Adding to the ever-growing list of avant-garde, high fash-un wedding looks this season was Maria Grazia Chiuri, who just closed her AW19 Dior Couture show with a look that comprised delicate black lace tights and a gold doll’s house-slash-dress, as inspired by iconic feminist artist Penny Slinger’s series Doll Houses. Making their debut in the mid-1970s, like many of Slinger’s works the houses explored inner-workings of the female psyche, sexuality, and spirituality. 

Slinger is the latest pioneering female artist Chiuri has collaborated with since taking the reins at Dior in 2016, having previously teamed up with visionaries including feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, artist Mickalene Thomas, and choreographer Martha Graham.   

Taking place at Dior’s Paris headquarters, models made their way through a garden of blooming roses and into the space itself, which had a dark, slightly ominous feel, having been transformed by Slinger into a black forest with a huge, gnarled tree climbing up its famous staircase. At its centre, an all-female string quartet playing an arrangement by German composer Max Richter. 

Aptly, the collection gave off some heavy gothic widow-in-mourning vibes, with devoré velvet gowns, tailored capes, and cocktail dresses with cinched waists all on the line-up, and most looks completed with pillbox hats, veils, and an uber-smoky eye. “I could write a book about black,” proclaimed Chrisian Dior in his Little Dictionary of Fashion: seemingly, for AW19, Chiuri was adding a new chapter. 

Elsewhere, the designer paid tribute to legendary filmmaker Agnès Varda, who died earlier this year, with a screening of her 1984 short Les Dites Cariatides, and referenced American writer, architect, and curator Bernard Rudofsky as a source of inspiration. Splashing the name of his 1944 MoMA exhibition Are Clothes Modern ? across the chest of a simple cotton t-shirt, in the process Chiuri asked the same question of Couture.