There are few things more exciting in this world than something which has never been seen or experienced before, including the collections of the first female to take reign as creative director at Christian Dior. Within French culture, the prestigious house has become synonymous with traditional notions of femininity but in 2017 what does a modern approach to traditional feminine ideals look like? Maria Grazia Chiuri’s appointment follows a succession of brilliantly orchestrated collections alongside design partner Pierpaolo Picciolo for Valentino. The premise for Spring 2017 at its very core is diversity and differences among women, with Chiuri noting “The message, really, is that there is not one kind of woman,” she said. There was some shock when the show opened with Ruth Bell, sporting her signature buzzcut and dressed in something which resembled a white fencing jacket, monogrammed trainers and knickerbockers. What soon emerged was a refreshingly widened viewpoint and defiant representation of women, rather than the same old reiteration of the same look over and over again.
Slowly but surely we are seeing changes within society that speak to women of all walks of life, and for Spring 2017 Chiuri has managed to capture a snapshot of the female experience and create pieces which speak to the athletes, as well as those more drawn to a life of leisure. The result? A balance between these two ideals, draws in a new audience of generation of women whether they be attracted to the unattainable and more glamorous dresses, or simple and practical pieces. It’s all there; to be worn by an army of women all connected through the same hardships and ubiquitous experiences we collectively encounter throughout the course of the female experience. Among the mix of hard and soft there were also faded slogan tees, with one reading “We should all be feminists”. Since Sex & The City, and more modern contemporaries such as Girls and Orange is the New Black, young women have been inspired to call themselves feminists (whether they fully understand the political ideologies that are attached).
Maria Grazia and Piccioli are both avid and passionate researchers, however, when working for a house like Christian Dior which carries such a rich history there’s a myriad of motifs, themes and techniques to draw inspiration from. That’s not to say that the new creative director is limiting what she can and can’t do, noting “Monsieur Dior only lives for ten years. It can’t only be about him!”. Chiuri describes her new role as a curator for the house of Christian Dior, borrowing the bee motif from Hedi Slimane which featured front and centre on the knee high boots and sneakers. Whilst not as pretty as the velvet suede shoes at Valentino, this is another runway where flats were the shoe of choice, further entrenching this idea that women more than ever are exercising their choice to dress for comfort, yet fashionably so. The boots were a stark contrast to the tulle dresses with their ruched bustier featuring thin ribbon straps and breath-taking embroidery inspired by Tarot cards. Those dresses, and lacy blouses were purely the work of Chiuri and somewhat reminiscent of the work she did at Valentino.