While the scenes of Paris Haute Couture week may be flooding our Instagram feeds, rarely does one get a glimpse of the real couture: the talented petites mains, or couture seamstresses, as they stitch by stitch build confections of tulle, silk, and lace. Luckily, Olivia Palermo is here to provide a true look at some of the best and most fascinating areas in the world of fashion, as she finds herself in Dior's grand ateliers, only a handful of days before the show, elbow-to-elbow with Dior's creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri. "My first couture show was probably Valentino over 10 years ago," explained Palermo, who is no stranger to the red carpet or the front row. But even she couldn't contain her excitement over the prospect of digging into the famed house's archival collection and getting a sneak peak. "It was such a pleasure to take the time to be walked through the collection, pay attention to every beautiful detail and catch up with my friend Maria before the madness of the show begins," she said. Here, Palermo's exclusive Dior couture photo diary.
It is rare that any designer has any free time in the days leading up to a runway show, but Dior's creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri always finds time for friends. "We are both so excited that she could show me her House and share the fine details of the atelier," said Palermo.
This spring's couture collection has a circus theme – any anything goes at the circus, including gorgeous gowns. "Here we're admiring the savoir faire that goes into each piece of the collection," Palermo says. Each runway look is hand-sewn by a highly skilled member of the atelier.
"We're looking at the exquisite details that come only as a result of the finest craftsmanship," she explained. This ballerina-style dress featured pieces of tulle woven together by hand.
Any last minute changes? Chiuri and Palermo look over the last details with one of the house's designers. It is so rare to have an inside look into the world of couture, which is often quite secretive and reserved for devoted maison clients and red carpet royalty only."It was an honor to be walked through such a vibrant and joyful collection."
While most of these couture designs start with a brilliant sketch, the sketches are also used to help determine the order of the show. Many devoted Dior clients, often decked out in head-to-toe Dior couture, will attend the show and then choose their handmade wares for a next season or special event.
So much of what has come before is an influence upon future Dior collections – and not everyone gets to have a first-hand, gloved look at the archive. "Waiting with bated breath for the unveil of an original Christian Dior hat. You know I love an accessory!"
"It's incredible to see how both the shoes themselves and their design ensure the test of time," she said. These red velvet pumps were designed for the Duchess of Windsor, by Roger Vivier for Christian Dior around 1955. The Christian Dior company bought them in an auction sale in 1998, and now store them safely in the archive.
"Getting a closer look at the immaculate preservation of the archival garments," Palermo explained. This embroidered dancing dress, from Spring/Summer 1953, and its stole are protected by acid free silk paper.
"Some silhouettes last a lifetime," Palermo says. Isn't that the truth – this Dior gown, from 1949, is one of the most famous evening gowns in the Dior archives.
Now off to the circus! Palermo arrives at the iconic Musée Rodin to take in the Dior Spring 2019 couture show, wearing a Dior cotton jacket and leather crop pants.
The grand entrance to Dior's couture show, on the grounds of the Musée Rodin.
A sneak peak of two couture gowns before they walk in the show. In addition to a grand circus tent, and circus-influenced clothes, Maria Grazia Chiuri has also planned a surprise performance by the all-female circus group Mimbre, who have travelled from London to participate in the show.
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