If you attended Paris Fashion Week, you may have been surprised to see tucked into Dior’s embellished, floating skirts a simple white T-shirt reading: “We Should All Be Feminists.” One of the most ‘Instagrammed’ moments of the show, Beyoncé’s song “Flawless” was the backing track to Maria Grazia Chiuri’s feminist debut for the iconic label.
The excitement surrounding Chiuri’s show was immense. As the first woman ever to take charge of Dior’s storied maison, which for so long has stood for ‘femininity’ in French culture, Chiuri used the opportunity to synthesise modern femininity through art.
“The message, really, is that there is not one kind of woman,” Chiuri said. In her collection, Chiuri has widened the hyperbolic definition of femininity to one which incorporates both strength and fragility, the romantic and the stoic. She achieved an artistic equilibrium between practicality and comfort but also delicacy and innocent naïveté.
Maria Grazia Chiuri’s first collection for Dior for spring 2017 was inspired by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s essay and TEDx talk of the same name. With flat trainers paired with elegant gowns, structured tailoring and androgynous female models, Chiuri’s collection was inspired by the history of the Dior maison as well as the female form.
Ruth Bell, the British model famed for her buzz-cut, opened the show with a red heart brandished upon her chest. Corseted dresses, fencing-inspired jackets and statement tees were scattered across the runway. Lacy blouses, embroidered tulle skirts and net dresses dotted with flowers, leaves and tiny insects were interrupted by nostalgic full-length dresses embroidered with tarot card imagery. Trainers were paired with many looks, nodding at more comfortable footwear fit for the empowered, contemporary woman.
Chiuri made feminism the focal point of her show. At New York Fashion week, designers equally seemed to prioritise the voice of the politic through pins and music. “People are People, “We Are All Human Beings” and “Feminist AF” were some of the slogans that strutted NYFW’s runway by the likes of Creatures of Comfort, Jonathan Simkhai and Christian Siriano. Prabal Gurung’s finale featured T-Shirts stating, “Revolution Has No Borders” and “The Future Is Female.”
Dior announced that a percentage of proceeds from each sold shirt will benefit the Clara Lionel Foundation, Rihanna’s non-profit organization.
“My position in a house as influential as Dior, but also my role as a mother, reminds me every day of my responsibilities and the importance of my actions,” says Chiuri in a statement.
The CLF foundation targets ‘teachers and students, advocates and allies’ across borders to fight for basic rights to education and help. Rihanna, named the 2017 Humanitarian of the Year by the Harvard Foundation, started CLF in honour of her grandparents.
Selling at a whopping $710 each, and available at all Dior boutiques until May, a limited edition of the black shirt will be available from March 14-28th.
While some may argue that Dior is cashing in on the feminist craze, in a sense crippling the brand’s philanthropic backbone, from the point of view of the non-cynic, this progressive, authentic and morally explicit approach to fashion seems to have taken a leg up in positively shaping our feminist future.