Dior Time-travels for a Resort Collection With a Renaissance Twist


For Maria Grazia Chiuri, a runway show is never just that. Instead, it’s a history lesson, a women’s studies seminar and an archaeological dig.

Ahead of her resort 2025 show at Drummond Castle Gardens in Perthshire, Scotland, Chiuri criss-crossed the country, visiting the Harris tweed weavers, and the mills, manufacturers and makers that make up the Scottish textile industry.

She also tapped writers and historians to inform the collection and give it the sort of scholarly angle that’s rarely seen in an industry that’s all about speed, youth and appearances. But Chiuri has always been different: she likes to slow things down, look to the past, and probe beneath the surface.

That’s one reason why the author, historian and artist Clare Hunter was sitting alongside the marquee names such as Jennifer Lawrence, Rosamund Pike and Lily Collins during Monday’s twilight show in the Italianate gardens.

Chiuri had worked with Hunter before, basing the Dior Couture fall 2021 collection around her book “Threads of Life: A History of the World Through the Eye of a Needle.”

The resort 2025 collection was something of an encore.

Chiuri devoured Hunter’s latest book, “Embroidering Her Truth: Mary, Queen of Scots and the Language of Power,” and used it as inspiration for the embroideries in the latest collection, which had a warrior queen spirit, with nods to armor in the stiff, sculptural skirts, and chain mail in the sparkling mesh knits.

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Mary, Queen of Scots “was a big reference for this collection. We looked at her paintings and especially at her love of embroidery,” said Chiuri, who also drew on the queen’s hard- and soft-edged wardrobe for her latest collection.

Chiuri also tapped the artist Pollyanna Johnson to create a portrait of the 16th century queen, and used elements from her artwork in the show. She transposed the portrait onto ceramic plates and featured it in parts of the collection.

Mary Stuart, who was born in Scotland in 1542, and grew up at the French royal court, was a Catholic, a complex character, and a controversial queen who was eventually charged with treason and executed at the behest of her English cousin, Queen Elizabeth I.

Hunter’s book stood out because it revealed something new about Mary: the fact that she was telling her life story — and sending secret messages to her supporters — through the very female occupation of embroidery, much of which she did during her nearly two decades in prison.

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“She wasn’t a superb needleworker, and she was really interested in stitchery. She didn’t experiment with that at all. She used embroidery to set down her own story as her testimony when her enemies were decrying her, and accusing her of being an adulteress and a murderer,” said Hunter who, in honor of Mary, was wearing a blood-red tulle underskirt on the day of the show.

That was the same color the queen wore on the day of her execution, and is a symbol of Catholic martyrdom. Chiuri used it too. Monday night’s show opened with the musician Brìghde Chaimbeul wearing a long, dark red dress, carrying a set of Scottish smallpipes, and looking as if she walked off the pages of a Shakespeare play.

Hunter said that, in order to tell her story, Mary embroidered very specific symbols on pieces of cloth. They included a Brazilian bird, a wink to the well-traveled sea captain who ferried her between Scotland and France when she was a child.

The queen also stitched political barbs, complete with mottoes such as “The bonds of virtue are tighter than the bonds of blood,” an allusion to her cousin Elizabeth with whom she had a fractious relationship.

She embroidered a phoenix rising from the ashes, another Catholic symbol, and an image of a reddish cat trapping a mouse by the tail, a sideways glance at her flame-haired cousin Elizabeth. Another heartbreaking embroidery shows the symbol of France, the fleur-de-lis, together with the English rose.

At the bottom is a broken thistle, a symbol of her Scottish kingdom. Not only was the queen imprisoned by Elizabeth, she was betrayed by her own son, the future King James VI of Scotland and King James I of England.

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Those embroideries still exist, some are the property of the Victoria & Albert Museum, while others are housed at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, and at Oxburgh Hall in Norfolk, England.

Chiuri took inspiration from those embroideries and sent messages of her own through the collection.

A navy cotton sailor coat had roughly stitched red stripes on the sleeve and a matching Scottish lion herald on the pocket, recalling the Royal Banner of Scotland, while colorful Scottish flora bloomed across a full black skirt.

Dresses bore words such as “emotional,” “nag,” “bossy,” and “fiesty,” in medieval style script, a reference to the adjectives used to describe Mary Stuart throughout the ages.

Chiuri also stitched black-and-white archive images from the 1955 show that Monsieur Dior staged in the ballroom of Scotland’s Gleneagles Hotel onto pearl-studded tops with ruffle collars. She picked out the name Christian Dior in beads down the sleeve.

Those images of the 1955 show not only captured Chiuri’s imagination. They were the subject of an intimate exhibition at Gleneagles, which was set up in the same ballroom where the ’50s show took place. Dior also hosted its VIP guests at Gleneagles, which is now a five-star luxury hotel, spa and golf resort.     

In that 1955 show, Christian Dior — decked in white tie — sent out 172 looks on eight models in front of an audience filled with diplomats, aristocrats and local dignitaries. The event was a charity fundraiser and was followed by a ball with dancing, Scottish reels, and no doubt all sorts of kilts flying around the room.

Chiuri loved the pictures, especially the behind-the-scenes ones.

“Mr. Dior wrote in his autobiography that he was fascinated by the dancing after the show — all the men in kilts with beautiful women in traditional dress,” she said.

“And when we looked at the pictures we were surprised — there were so many from the backstage. There were people who had worked on the show, and people looking at the show from the backstage. Those pictures were so cinematic, and we wanted to use them as a way of storytelling,” said Chiuri.

She turned the images into patches on outerwear, and collaged and printed them onto T-shirts, tote bags and blankets that Dior gave to guests before the show.

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Those images were on display alongside some of the looks from the 1955 show, including a wedding dress and a magnified houndstooth suit made from Scottish wool in the blue and white of the country’s flag.

Justine Picardie, whose book “Miss Dior: A Story of Courage and Couture,” looks at Christian’s sister Catherine, a member of the French Resistance, worked alongside Chiuri on the exhibition.

Picardie said the 1955 show was significant for a number of reasons, including the reinforcement of the Auld Alliance between France and Scotland (the two countries have had close ties for centuries, often conspiring against England), and Mr. Dior’s abiding interest in Scotland’s textiles and makers.

Picardie described the relationship between the house of Dior and Scotland as an “authentic story,” with deep roots in the 20th century.

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Dior, resort 2025

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In 1947, Dior named one of his haute couture ensembles Écosse, the French language word for Scotland, and later staged shows in Glasgow and Perthshire. In 1960, the French company’s London subsidiary held a fundraising show at Scone Palace, a Gothic Revival stately home near Perth and ancestral seat of the Earls of Mansfield.

On Monday afternoon, Dior returned to the grounds of Scone Palace, hosting a garden party for guests before the show, and keeping the Auld Alliance alive — albeit peacefully.



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