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In a striped circus tent in Paris, nine pairs of rope-muscled female acrobats twisted and braided around each other until each couple had moved from a standing embrace to a double-height figure, with one woman standing on the shoulders of another. Dressed in custom-made Christian Dior playsuits, they then walked in their teetering pairs to the centre ring, where they rearranged themselves into a human archway for the models who followed them on to the catwalk.

With a monumental exhibition about to open at the Victoria and Albert museum, this Christian Dior haute couture made the point that Dior, under first female designer Maria Grazia Chiuri, is as relevant to the future of fashion as to its history. This was Dior as politics and showbiz, not Dior as pomp and ceremony. With an all-female, all-body-shapes acrobatic company and evening dresses that referenced the “androgynous and asexual” aesthetic of the clown, Chiuri showed that there is much more to Dior than the full-skirted “new look”.