I Want to Call Dior’s Cruise Collection ‘Pagan-ish’ too

Earlier this summer, the fashion house of Dior produced a publicity video for their autumn-winter 2020–2021 haute couture collection that appeared — to my eyes — to be all about the the Other Crowd, so I blogged it as “Dior Dresses the Fair Folk.”

Athough I don’t follow trends in haute couture, I had fashion on my mind, as The Pomegranate’s issue on “Paganism, art, and fashion” was coming out just then. (Free downloads are still available — get them while you can!)

About that time I also wrote a post, “The Pizzica Video that Tore my Heart,”  In it, a woman defiantly performs the traditional dance called pizzica in a lockdown-deserted piazza in the southern Italian city of Lecce, in the region of Salento, “the heel of the boot.”

Pizzica has been taken up and (re)-Paganized by some of the local Pagan community, as discussed by Giovanna Parmigiani in a recent Pomegranate article, “Spiritual Pizzica: A Southern Italian Perspective on Contemporary Paganism.”((This is a paid download. But talk to a librarian.))

So what did Dior do to introduce their 2020-2021 “cruise collection” but create their own spectacle in Lecce, including pizzica.

I found it a little spooky. Maybe I was infuenced by the earlier solo pizzica video in the deserted (seemingly de-populated) square.

The scene is dominated by musicians and dancers.

There was a dazzling set by feminist artist Marinella Senatore, in collaboration with Puglia-based light designers Fratelli Paris, where 30,000 coloured bulbs evoked the luminaire of local folk festivals and contained a number of the artist’s slogans; a rousing score by the Italian composer Paolo Buonvino, who conducted an 18-strong orchestra from Rome, alongside 21 local musicians; a performance by Italian rock musician Giuliano Sangiorgi, folk dancers, and, of course, a vast 90-look collection worn by a slew of the world’s top models. “An Ode to Puglia: How Dior’s Cruise Show Celebrates Italian Craftsmanship.”

Dior’s creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, has roots in the region. The clothing featured used local products: fabrics from “Le Costantine Foundation, which aims to preserve centuries-old textile arts in Puglia . . .  lace embroiderer Marilena Sparasci; weavers Tessitura Calabrese, and more.”

The folded kerchiefs worn by some of the models were also a nod to local traditional costume.

I wanted to focus on the music and dancing, which made the silent models parading through the square seem like inter-dimensional beings. Interlopers. Visitors. Part of “the phenomeon.” That is perhaps not what Chiuri intended.

So —visitors from another dimension, ecstatic music, a certain feminist flavor, beauty, nighttime, tradition — does that add up to “Pagan-ish”?

4 thoughts on “I Want to Call Dior’s Cruise Collection ‘Pagan-ish’ too

  1. Kalinysta

    You know, if Dior used African rhythms, African clothing, or Asian clothing and other accoutrements, everyone would be screaming “Cultural Appropriation!” Yet, Dior can do this with traditional Italian culture and get away with it? What’s the difference? Because it’s an Indo-European culture it’s okay for a corporation to exploit it? They can’t come up with something more original?
    (Sorry for the rant.)

    1. What I wrote: the creative director is from that region, and she highlighted the products of local artisans, such as weavers, in the collection. From what I hear, the artisans were happy with the publicty.

  2. Pitch313

    A couple cultural and culture critical remarks:

    1.) Dior–fashion shows. Focus–commercial,artistic.Substantial budgets, impressive production values, access to public venues (town square makeover, for example).

    Pagan events–rituals, ceremonies, festivals, cons, concerts, altars.Focus–spiritual, magical, artistic, transformative. Limited budgets, lower production values, limited access to public venues.

    My conclusion–Dior’s Cruise (a seasonal category of couture) show is mildly Pagan-ish, at best. Witches might wear the Puglia-inspired fashion. But probably not do rituals in the manner or style of a Dior show.

    2.) Popular culture, Regional cultures, Subcultures.

    Europe preserves a bunch of historic regional cultures, including Italy’s Puglia. America, to some extent, preserves some of the customs and practices of these regional cultures, as well. Italian-Americans of Puglian origin. Fashion originating in these historic regional cultures provides inspiration for major fashion houses. So, we watch a Puglian-inspired Dior fashion show in Puglia, or a similarly inspired fashion show in some other locale.

    The fashion house and show changes the presentation and values of some elements of the historic regional culture vis a vis the overall popular culture.Folks, Pagans, might want to wear Puglia-inspired clothes, for example.Or take up the pizzica.

    A fashion house that treated Pagan subculture would have a similar effect. Robes by Dior.
    Pagan-ish, certainly. But probably not essential to Pagan activities or core experiences.

    Chiuri’s father is from Puglia. This is an instance of legitimate access to a historic regional culture by virtue of descent or ancestry. A claim widespread in Paganism. But a claim I do not always find persuasive in regard to cultural appropriation or disruption.

    To be clear, I find Chiuri’s endeavor positive and good-hearted and supportive of Puglian culture. But maybe not just because her father comes from there.She’s equally a contemporary European fashionista.

    Culture and enculturation and spiritual affiliation create complicated circumstances and outlooks in the world we live in. It can be a challenge to figure out things like how Pagan-ish a fashion show from a high end house–or an annual cycle of fashion shows–may be..And how supportive of the lives Pagans lead.

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