Surprising Similarities between Couture and Sports

I had a chance to meet Ms. Rie Tanaka, a retired artistic gymnast the other day. When we were talking about the behaviors and attitudes at competitions, Ms. Tanaka brought up an interesting topic saying, “A competition starts before your actual performance.” “I used to appeal to the judges, as if saying, “I am in a perfect condition today!” by using my whole body: gestures, gaze and posture. Even if I have a pain or injury, I never show agony but my confidence and readiness. Even if I am overwhelmed by tension and anxiety, I make eye contact and stay calm and ready. I try to do it not only at competitions but also during training and in everyday life. Such mindset actually changes pressure into the power to win.” Mind-Body Link As I was listening to the story of Ms. Tanaka who had gone through numerous fierce competitions across the world, I recalled the new Dior which Maria Grazia Chiuri announced in September. Maria Grazia Chiuri is the first woman to be appointed Artistic Director of Dior, one of the well-established maisons in France. Until the last season, she had been acting as a director of VALENTINO. Spring-Summer 2017 Couture Collection, her debut as the Artistic Director of Dior, features fencing as its key motif. “Fencing is a discipline in which the balance between thought and action, the harmony between mind and heart is essential”, said Chiuri. And she tried to reflect such link of mind and body into her fashion while adopting those key elements into this collection. The collection showcases an armor-like blouson with a tulle long skirt, and a corset dress that looks like a fencing vest with cartoon-ish embroideries.

It is fully enjoyable to see that her elegant and romantic designs with fresh functionalities once again successfully reflect her fashion philosophy.

And those are airy yet have a strong impact. But of course, the airy image is not simply created with see-through fabrics and casual items such as T-shirts. Maria Grazia Chiuri ignores all the entrenched stereotypical ideas, such as “sporty means …”, “couture maison is …”, “women are …”, “mode should be …” or “style has to be …” and takes light-hearted, free-minded approaches, which we can see through her new Dior Couture.

Another idea Ms. Tanaka mentioned was that the key element of being a competitive athlete is whether you are able to have conversations with yourself or not.

She explained that in order not to be overwhelmed by the atmosphere of the venue such as Olympic Games and other big competitions, it is necessary to train yourself on a daily basis to pay close attention and recognize how you feel and what your physical condition is. Speaking of mind-body link, surely Chiuri must have experienced various emotions such as expectations, pressure, support and jealousy from many people when she was preparing her new collection. And one of the reasons why she successfully overcame all kinds of pressure and changed them into constructive power is, I assume, because she knew how to balance her state of mind and body as well as her passion towards her first Dior collection and had conversations with herself. So, here is my new year’s resolution… I would say either “starting some sport” or “mastering how to have conversations with myself” or both… Well, I’ve been thinking about it over and over again.