Feminism and fencing: Maria Grazia Chiuri ushers in a new era for the historic house – here’s what happened at the show
It’s nearly been a whole year since Raf Simons announced his departure from Dior. Since then, the house has continued to show, but with collections designed by an in-house team headed up by Lucie Meier and Serge Ruffieux. While their collections have done the job, the lack of a creative director has been felt. Today that changed as Maria Grazia Chiuri, formerly of Valentino, made her debut as the house’s new – and first female – creative director. Here’s what went down at the show.
IT WAS STAGED AT THE MUSÉE RODIN
This season, the show was held at the Musée Rodin, the museum dedicated to the works of the legendary French sculptor. Compared to Raf Simons’ debut Dior show, which saw nearly a million flowers pinned to the walls, the setting for Chiuri’s first outing was quite humble: a simple wooden catwalk for the models and benches for the guests.
RIHANNA SAT ON THE FRONT ROW
Fresh off the back of her Fenty x Puma show, the singer and Dior campaign star sat front row alongside fellow A-lister and brand ambassador Jennifer Lawrence, legendary Vogue ed Anna Wintour, and big-time models Kate Moss, Carla Bruni, Milla Jovovich and Natalie Vodianova. Designers Alber Elbaz and Giambattista Valli were also in attendance, along with Chiuri’s long term colleague Pierpaolo Piccioli, who is now Valentino’s sole creative director.
THE NEW DIOR IS ALL ABOUT WOMEN
Speaking in the show notes, Chiuri said that she strives to “create fashion that resembles the women of today”. “Fashion that corresponds to their changing needs, freed from the stereotypical categories of ‘masculine/feminine’, ‘young/not so young’, ‘reason/emotion’, which nonetheless also happen to be complementary aspects,” she continued. The show notes went on to cite the designer’s “boldly feminine outlook” and say that “feminist is a recurring word for her”. The word even appeared on a t-shirt in the collection, which seemed to reference Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “We Should All Be Feminists” essay that was sampled in Beyoncé’s song “Flawless”.
THE FENCING INSPIRATION
Also in the show notes, Chiuri cited a perhaps unusual form of dress as inspiration: the female fencing uniform. “Fencing is a discipline in which the balance between thought and action, the harmony between mind and heart are essential. The uniform of the female fencer is, with the exception of some special protections, the same as for the male fencer.” As the first look came down the catwalk, modelled by Dazed favourite Ruth Bell, this inspiration was clear to see: it resembled a reworked fencing uniform – a white padded jacket, worn over an oversized shirt of the same colour and matching cropped trousers. Similarly padded garments followed, worn over more shirts, and with impossibly delicate chiffon skirts.
THE FEMININITY AND ROMANCE
Elsewhere, the collection demonstrated the femininity, romance and craftsmanship that characterised Chiuri’s collections for Valentino. Clearly making use of the highly skilled petites mains of Dior’s historic ateliers, the designer sent out gowns made from chiffon that was pleated, tiered or intricately embroidered with hearts, flowers and leaves.
THE BEE MOTIFS
If you look a bit closer at the collection, you’ll notice that a bee motif appears throughout it: from the shoes that Ruth Bell opened the show in, sewn onto those fencing uniform-style padded jackets and embroidered onto chiffon gowns (see above). The insect was a motif that Hedi Slimane incorporated into many of his designs during his tenure at Dior Homme; appropriating it for this collection was Chiuri’s way of paying homage to one of Dior’s designers past.
If you were hoping to see some of the Insta girls at this show, you’d have been sorely disappointed – the cast mainly consisted of editorial models. After Bell opened the show, she was followed by her twin sister May, former Dazed cover star Yasmin Wijnaldum and longterm Dior muse Julia Nobis.