Maria Grazia Chiuri has years of experience in fashion at Valentino, and her take over of Dior is seen as a revolution in the fashion industry, as the designer is the first female head designer at the fashion house. Her inspiring collection for the spring collection for Dior Ready-to-Wear 2017 championed the idea of women as feminists, inspired by the essay ‘We Should All by Feminists’ by Chimamanda Adichie, author of Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah. The same phrase from the essay title was emblazoned across the t-shirts on the catwalk, bringing a decided bit of spunk to a collection that marred the contrasts in women, represented by the idea of the ‘modern day feminine’.
Tough leather jackets and knee-high leather boots were given a romantic spin with tiered tulle skirts and embroidery. The collection was dominated by three colours only- white, black and red, showing the direct contrasts between the innocent, the dangerous, and the passionate sides of women. As an Italian, Chiuri takes direct inspiration from the ideas of modern feminity and mixes them for the fashion collection with how Christian Dior originally designed ‘for the women’ he dressed, emphasising the women’s characters in his designs for them.
The idea of the battle for the female voice in the modern world was shown through the inspiration Chiuri took from fencing. She describes her fascination with the sport as being an ‘obsession with uniform’ and the idea that in fencing, the ‘aim is not to kill’. The strategic defence and advances in fencing could equally well represent the current steps taken by feminism, where a false move could also devastate the image of women across the world. This slightly meta-contrast between the sport and Dior fashion may seem unconventional, but in the modern day, ‘femininity’ and the idea of what categorises a feminist is equally ambiguous and unconventional, making it a fitting pair.
Chiuri decidedly embodies a slightly darker, more rocker-chic aesthetic in her own apparel and style, and the same thing shows through in her collection. The tarot-card embroidery featured on the tulle skirts and bustiers in the collection reflect back to Dior’s own fascination with the occult and tarot. The link between superstition and the feminine mystique is not lost here, as women were frequently linked to being tied in with magic and the forces of nature. Although witch hunts and seances are no longer common practices, the power that women hold is still very much alive, echoed in the modern feminist essay Laugh of the Medusa by Helene Cixous, on the power of the female body and female sexuality.
The collection is wonderfully all-encompassing: it shows the battling forces in women and what drives them, with inspiration both from the past and the modern day. The rebellious look balancing between pretty and grunge really seeks to find a middle ground for all modern feminists. I personally love the embroidered tarot card details and the fencing jackets, which speak to the romantic in me thinking of the modern woman going into battle with a fencing scabbard and a tulle dress with falling stars and angels. There is something very alluring about the rebellion and the mystery that such an idea gives!