PARIS, France — Today, for the first time, a woman leads the Christian Dior ateliers. Since January 2017, Maria Grazia Chiuri has offered her contemporary female perspective on one of fashions most enduring and feminine haute couture legacies — which began 70 years ago in 1947.
However, despite the fact that many of the métiers and savoir-faire used within the Christian Dior ateliers and their suppliers have remained largely unchanged over seven decades, the lifestyles of the women that they dress have changed beyond recognition — a fact that Chiuri is very much aware of in her work.
“It’s important to evolve the French tradition in a way that is more right for the new style of life,” she explains. “I want to maintain this heritage about construction but at the same time I want to do that in a light way. Lightness is of value now — for our new style of life, and also for the temperatures around the world.”
However, reimagining haute couture techniques to fit modern lifestyles is just one side of the revolution Chiuri represents. Despite being regarded as one of fashion’s most feminine aesthetic legacies, if not the most feminine, until Chiuri’s appointment the house was led by exclusively male artistic directors.
To speak about women today is another story: fashion does not define them; they can define themselves.
“When I started everybody said to me, ‘Dior is a feminine brand,’ but we are not in the 1950s, it’s not enough to speak about women like flowers,” she continues, referring to Mr Dior’s proclivity for floral terms when describing both his work and his female staff. “To speak about women today is another story: fashion does not define them; they can define themselves,” she continues.
To Chiuri, haute couture represents the ultimate tool to celebrate the diversity of the atelier’s clients, who, though undoubtedly privileged, are drawn from all over the world. “I think that you have to understand women are different around the world, all people are different, couture speaks about that. And I think it’s very important to be connected with this idea.”