It was announced in July of this year that Maria Grazia Chiuri would take the helm at Christian Dior as its new Creative Director. After much success at Valentino and with experience in Ready-To-Wear, Haute Couture and Accessories, a designer with such triple threat status would seem an obvious choice to continue the legacy of the 70 year old iconic fashion brand. However more focus has been put on her being the first woman to ever be appointed at Dior and therefore the Spring/Summer 2017 Collection was the must see of Paris Fashion Week. The question was not whether a woman could do the job, but more how would she do it differently?
A collection that was put together in the better part of 6 weeks, Chiuri could have easily crumbled and reverted to the classic reinterpretation of the “New Look” and thus crowd please her Dior customer. However she gave the people what they came to see, a woman’s vision of Dior. She made a collection that reflected herself rather than the preconceived idea of the brand. She told Tim Blanks in an interview that she hopes to research all of the designers who have worked at Dior and mentioned Galliano’s time at the brand as huge reference for her. She was quick to point out that Dior himself was only head of the brand for 10 years.
Chiuri is here to challenge herself and to create her own identity as a designer, rather than reinforcing and resculpting a post war, feminine aesthetic. This collection is for a new Dior customer. I think it represents how women (myself included) feel about how we are perceived and how we would like to be perceived. The constant treading of a fine line between hardness and femininity. A sense of entitlement rather than gratitude. The will to take the concept of Feminism back into our own hands and banishing any ideas of man-hating. Wanting to be comfortable, sexy and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, all at the same time.
There are so many ideas and options that run through this collection, however one thing is paramount, Chiuri wants us to think about the importance of mind and body. In an age where people are so uninformed but information saturated it is important to find that Zen place and reconfigure our brains out side the filtered world of social media to what really matter versus what people see. The measure of self-worth through likes and comments from strangers around the world rather than through real human connections. The ability to think for ourselves and to relate to our fellow human, something which is becoming more and more difficult with each and every app we download.
The message is modern empowerment, female empowerment. Chiuri has taken a challenge. She has moved her life to Paris and has left a successful legacy at Valentino, perhaps a departure that came too early. But she is also challenging us. She is asking us to imagine, reimagine even not just Dior but the world and what it is or even what it could be…in the hands of a woman of course!