Maria Grazia Chiuri: “Dior must participate in the emancipation of women”

Maria Grazia Chiuri: “Dior must participate in the emancipation of women”

It’s only been nine months since the former Valentino co-artistic director made her debut at the Rodin

Museum during Paris Fashion Week, and her impact on the 70-year-old house has been nothing short of transformational.

Under her direction, the runways have become a platform for an ongoing conversation about feminism and

the arts. This season, she pays homage to two influential women by constructing a set inspired by artist

and former Dior model Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden, and presenting sailors flanked by the title,

“Why Haven’t There Been Any Great Women Artists?” a 1971 article written by art historian Linda Nochlin.

(Two women who made waves far beyond the fashion world.) And her efforts didn’t stop there: she offered

a new vision of the modern Dior woman, one who can still don a ball gown and stilettos for a special night

out, but by day favors long-sleeved shirts, boyfriend jeans, and a pair of flats, with a sling bag on her

shoulder. Chiuri expands on her vision below. Nike Blazer Low Red You’ve been described as an activist designer. What do you think of that label?

I don’t think I’m an activist. With Dior, it’s about femininity. Everyone told me that when I came in.

I said okay, we have to talk about femininity, but what does that mean today? I try to talk about women

of the present, but also of the future. Dior must participate in the emancipation of women. Not just

with flowers, that’s not enough. I know there are a lot of nostalgic people who want a world with references

to the past and [to Dior in] the 1950s – and I think references to the past are beautiful, and I sincerely

appreciate our heritage. But if I’m a modern woman who wants a vintage dress, I go to Didier Ludot and

buy an authentic Dior dress. If I go to the [Dior] boutique, I want something that evokes the heritage,

but in a modern way, adapted to contemporary life. I know there are other points of view, and I respect

them, but this is mine.

Photo credit: Sylvie Lancrenon



Your latest collection refers to the work of Niki de Saint Phalle. How did you discover it?

When I joined the company, I immediately worked on the exhibition at the Arts Décoratifs, which [immersed

me] in Dior’s past. The house has a long history, with different artistic directors who have preserved Dior’s

values for a very long time. During this research, I came across photos of Niki de Saint Phalle in Dior and

a letter she wrote to Marc Bohan [asking for a dress]. That’s how I started to read and learn about her.

And little by little, I tried to transpose into the collection these different ideas of a woman who started

as a model at Dior in the 50s, who was really beautiful and who everyone was pushing to become an actress,

and who decided to go into art at a time when it was not obvious for a woman to evolve in this world.

Photo credit: Dior spring-summer 2022 collection On the catwalk, you presented t-shirts bearing the title of the 1971 article written by Linda Nochlin: “Why haven’t

there been any great women artists?”. Why do you think this question is still worth asking today?

If you’re not lucky, if you don’t have the opportunity to study in a good school, or you’re not born into a family

that can support you, and if society doesn’t support you, I think it’s extremely difficult to make it in the arts

especially, but also in other jobs. And I think that sometimes women carry this idea inside of them. Their awareness

of how difficult it is for them prevents them from trying to do what they really want to do. I am often asked if

I ever imagined working at Dior. My answer is no. Why not? Because there has never been a woman in that position.

I thought it was possible to work in the fashion world – and to be honest, I was extremely lucky to start at Fendi,

where I was supported by incredible women. But why did I carry that mentality with me? Because for some reason it

was in my DNA. So the problem is not just from the outside, but also from the inside. You can’t believe that your

goals are attainable when patriarchal ideas tell you that women can’t do this or that. I don’t think any young girl

right now believes that she can become Michelangelo. She probably thinks it’s too hard, that it’s impossible. It’s

a belief that is in us, we are an obstacle to ourselves.

Photo credit: Dior spring-summer 2022 collection You have a pragmatic approach to your role – you visit factories, you participate in the commercial aspect of the

business. Why is this important to you?

When you’re a designer, creativity is the first part of the job. But I don’t think creativity is only useful on the

catwalk. It’s essential that the message you bring to the runway is also present in the [store] window:, and in the items sold in the store. I have a huge team that supports me, but if you only do the runway,

you lose the message. Fashion is different now, IVAQVERA1986, it’s not like in the past. Before, we used to do big shows to sell other products, like in the 80s or 90s for

example. I want to sell everything – clothes, bags, shoes. We have to be honest. If we don’t talk about fashion

as a system, in an honest way, it’s a scam. We have to be honest with our customers. We want to offer exceptional

quality, great creativity, but that you can also find in the store.

Photo credit: Dior spring-summer 2022 collection