Dior Furthers Its Feminist Message

Maria Grazia Chiuri looked to '60s protest iconography for her Fall 2018 collection

To see the entire Dior Fall 2018 Ready-to-Wear collection, click here.

It’s no secret where Maria Grazia Chiuri stands on women’s rights. Since arriving at Christian Dior as the first female designer to helm the legendary maison, she has put her politics out there via her designs. So, guests arriving at the show who were greeted with a massive collage of ’60s-era women’s march protest images, magazine tears form Vogue and Elle, and a vintage image of mini-skirt clad protesters in front of the Christian Dior store weren’t entirely thrown off. It’s been Chiuri’s raison d’etre since day one. Side note, that aforementioned protest prompted then-creative director Marc Bohan to launch the Miss Dior line, addressing a younger, freer Dior woman. 

But beyond the women’s movement, which has had a rebirth of late, Chiuri was acknowledging the power of the media to support one’s cause, especially the kind that made everyday fashion models into stars during the counterculture decade. The show notes quoted Diana Vreeland, stating: “The ’60s were about personalities. It was the first time when mannequins became personalities. It was a time of great goals, an inventive time…and these girls invented themselves.” That could also be said for Chiuri at Dior.

It’s said that the designer was given a mandate upon accepting the position to create daywear and sportswear for the brand, which she has done. In turn, this tends to attract the younger customer. And like many designers before her, there are certain motifs that never get old, so why not reinvent them for a new generation? Coincidentally, 2018 also marks the 50th anniversary of the tumultuous student-led riots in 1968 across the globe (and ironically, 50 years later, we are witnessing a new generation of students standing up for what they believe in, which is sadly having to save their own lives.)

Chiuri’s Fall collection celebrated the “youthquake” look coined by Ms. Vreeland (and favored in the ritzier side of Haight-Ashbury) that forever changed the way we dress. This was, of course, the luxe version. The show opened with a sweater that read “C’est non, non, non et non” which is the name of a children’s book and simply means “No, not happening.” It’s definitely a form of protest. A peace sign version followed soon after. She paired them with retro, campus-style wool suiting but, in the interest of individuality, proposed several options of wearing the woolens including with a sheer point d’esprit. In fact, Chiuri continued with her sheer, peek-a-boo approach from Spring, highlighting plenty of bras that are meant to be seen. No need to actually burn them these days. Your social media feed can accomplish the same point.

Any good hippies worth their salt donned plenty of patchwork quilting. In Chiuri’s hand, this technique translated to masterful examples of couture-level workmanship—embroidered suede patchwork separates with a psychedelic mood and vintage quilting on skirts, blazers, and even boots which will cause a new sweep through thrift stores. Black leather balanced out the quilted pieces to add a soupçon of cool, and denim and suede patchwork separates, often paired with silver, seemed to channel the space race. 

A protester’s spirit is always a bit dreamy, and the designer didn’t forget her softer side. Handkerchief-sleeve dresses, ruffled patchwork-style chiffon dresses—at times paired with a poncho or military jackets—and floral embroidered tulle dresses and furs, a signature of the designer’s work since Valentino, closed the show. Each look was definitely a unique personality. Interestingly though, each and every model wore a Stephen Jones for Dior newsboy cap and colored-lens sunglasses. Because as much as we differ, we are all in this movement together.

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