With Paris Couture Week quickly arriving to our American Vogue apps with black coffee and a croissant for yet another season, there’s a lot that I’m personally expecting from a variety of designers; new on my roster: Dior’s new creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri. She proved herself rather worthy of running the creative side of the 70-year-old fashion house after her critically acclaimed debut collection last September for the season of Spring/Summer 2017. Her appointment is immediately an interesting choice for two reasons: it’s the first time she’s worked solo, without Pierpaolo Piccioli and because immediately, through her first collection, you realize that she is a political woman. Truth being, anybody political is interesting.
During her Spring 2017, at the Musée Rodin – a location used by the house’s previous creative director, Raf Simons, for his debut collection as well -, runway show, she presented a top that boldly said “We Should All Be Feminists,” something that has never been done at the house before. This political message became a huge hit within the fashion community, leading Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar to deem the entire collection one of the best collection throughout Paris Fashion Week. Additionally, not one critic was able to critique her collection without mentioning her feminist message.
However, I naturally questioned her politics. One being her views on cultural appropriation and the second being her thoughts on the lack of diversity on the runway. Why did I? In 2015, while she was working at Valentino with Pierpaolo Piccioli, the designer duo presented a 1920’s African inspired collection with models in cornrows and tribal clothing, but failed to hire black models. As a matter of fact, only 8 out of the over 80 models were black. According to Vogue, designer Pierpaolo Piccioli said, “We probably feel that the greatest privilege in doing our work is that fashion can give a message. We think every person coming here is an individual, and we can show that we can improve ourselves by understanding other cultures.”
“The message is tolerance and the beauty that comes out of cross-cultural expression,” said Piccioli discussing the collection, knowing somewhere in his mind that their collection would be controversial.
Additionally, during her Dior debut show, only six out of the over sixty posing queen cast were black women. Chiuri says, “We Should All be Feminists” but I ask, where is your intersectionality? Shouldn’t you be practicing what you preach? Eventually, I said to myself, what if she’s a white feminist? That would make sense, right? Everything seemed to fit like a puzzle then.
So maybe it’s not entirely her fault at Dior? What if it’s the casting directors who fail to include black models? I want to say that, but as a creative director, there has to be some blame on her. She’s in charge of the image of whatever brand she is working at and should be able to have some control of who becomes the face(s) of the label. Especially during a time like this, when diversity and politics are at a huge peek, should one, whether you like it or not, focus on color.
Her reign at Dior, however, is fresh – there’s no reason to jump to conclusions yet. Maybe she’ll surprise us? Who knows? Her new couture collection will be presented sometime during Jan. 22-26. We should all be definitely be looking forward to it.