Feminism In Fashion through Maria Grazia Chiuri

Feminism In Fashion through Maria Grazia Chiuri

Dior, a relic of femininity, had multiple previous designers that quickly became cult-like figures in the industry. After Christian Dior’s death, YSL helmed the brand and introduced youthfulness and elements of contemporary life in his designs. Then there was Galliano, beloved for his ostentatious couture pieces and extravagance. Though his time ended in a bust, but many still missed him. They thought him to be irreplaceable, so much so that the next creative Raf Simons became muddled in doubt. But still, he prevailed. There was the iconic debut show, the documentary and still occurring are tweets mourning ‘Raf for Dior’. Maria Grazia Chiuri succeeded him. She was Dior’s first female artistic director and possessed a string of achievements – previously working at Valentino. 

MGC’s Attempt at Feminism

Dior marketed Chiuri’s debut, during Paris Fashion Week, as a feminist victory under the hashtag The Woman Behind My Dress. The show also took such an approach. The collection consisted of what The Hollywood Reporter called “reality-based ready-to-wear” with t-shirts emblazoned with ‘We Should All Be Feminists’. As models came down the runway in sneakers and sportswear, it was obvious she was trying to introduce Dior into to world of everyday wear. Critics, however, weren’t in love with The Washington Post calling the clothes “not well-considered or inspired”. 

Via Elle Magazine

Her subsequent collections also gained traction but under the form of “celebrity feminism”. The early work consisted of bland statements like “Patriarchy = CO2”. She seemed to be posturing and attempting to gain sales from politics. It also did not help that her collections then were at best, dull and at worst, bad. The only detail that remained consistent was the eponymous belt which remained no matter the outfit. 

Despite this contrived attempt at feminism, the earlier shows are also a marker of that period. Pop feminism was abundant and political statements on film, TV or fashion rarely had critical thought. If fashion is a mirror of society, wasn’t she just succumbing to the popular ideas of the moment? Is it something she can be blamed for? We can use the collections to capture a moment in time, when all feminism seemed to be was a punchy caption. 

Dior, Today

Today, Dior is artistically and critically, much stronger. It is more concerned about integrating women’s stories in her designs and highlighting the history of Christian Dior.

 In 2020, she once again took the stage at Paris Fashion Week and presented a collection inspired by Catherine Dior, the original Miss Dior. The runway was planted with biodiversity from numerous countries and garments had floral designs and earthy colors. In 2021, she presented the Autumn / Winter show in Versailles and used the stories of the court women as inspiration. The collection had a magical, mythical quality and Chiuri stated, “Many of the fairytales we know today come from women who wrote them, in the 17th century.”

Via Daily Front Row
Via Perfect Wedding Magazine

Today, MGC is finding her footing. Similar to the grandeur of the 1990’s and minimalism of 2010s, the Dior of our time is rooted in nature. Her clothes attempt to reconcile feminism and utilitarianism. She is using women of the past to provide a way for women to move forward in the present.

Featured Image Via The New York Times

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