Maria Grazia Chiuri has had her finger on the pulse of current events for several seasons now since she’s been creative director at Dior, and her voice and style have become steadily more clear as she’s settled into her role. While many designers stay out of politics, Chiuri shares her feminist and social viewpoints as a response to major current events through her collections – all with a balance between hit-you-between-the-eyes statements and dreamy, often delicate looks.
This Season: The Protesters
In the latest Dior collection, Chiuri looked to the student-led protests in Paris, 1968, coming up on their 50th anniversary. And it wasn’t just a time of protest in Paris. In response to the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, protests were happening in London, Rome, Berlin, and all over the United States. There was the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. and Central/Eastern Europe, the Northern Ireland conflict, Tlatelolco massacre in Mexico City….1968 was a year of solidarity of the people.
And of course, in today’s social climate of the Women’s March, #NotMyPresident, and Antifa. And somehow, the uncanny timing of Chiuri strikes again as a national tragedy leads the brave and strong-willed students of Parkland to rise up and lead their own protests. Regardless of your political viewpoints on the matter, I’d hope you agree that for such young kids really, they are strong to be doing what they are instead of what I would probably be doing in that situation – crying a lot and hiding out. Not in the public eye trying to affect change.
So Dior‘s collection released at pretty much the exact time that student-led protest was happening again. And the looks reflected the counterculture of the late 1960’s in a socially focused but nostalgic bohemian style of designer fashion. Kind of an irony there. These guys made pants and skirts out of their mom’s old bed sheets out of necessity, and they would never be able to afford designer label clothing. Nor would they buy into the capitalist, commercial idea of it.
Juxtaposition: Uniformity, Fighting the Power, and Patchworks of Counterculture
Design elements included crochets and patchworks – reflecting those old sheets – as well as phrases found on protest signs. The school uniform was also a focus with plaid jackets and skirts, – the most impressive made with sheer tulle that just reads Dior romanticism. Gorgeous. And that’s the dichotomy in this that kind of makes me laugh. The angry student protester – most likely protesting the institution behind the uniform itself – twirling around in the dotted sheer tulle plaid skirt, thinking “Isn’t it soooo pretty?!” But literally, I have been both. Just not at the same time.
If this is Chiuri proving that our morals can be bought, I think she found me out. But I’m not so sure she was doing that. Actually I’m pretty certain she wasn’t. This is a new era of high priced, “high class” social justice participation. Or at least on the surface. I think it’s more relevant in Dior‘s home city of Paris, where social justice and politics are more fervently a part of the every day fiber of all walks of life, including the upper echelons.
But is social justice really on the minds of a woman who can drop $5K on a single dress? Does she really feel or understand the impacts of any social injustices? Only if she has the ability to empathize and makes it a point to see others’ plights will she want to act. So while this may be a whole-hearted, all-in push from Chiuri from a very different French perspective…in the U.S., those picking it up and just wearing it will probably fall tone deaf.
Art: Express Yourself
There were also works of art in painted suede so thin it didn’t move like suede- a Fauvism meets Surrealism perspective in captivating, bright artworks on black foundations of loose tops and pencil skirts and dresses. As an avid art buff, this is a welcomed surprise. As for how they looked on the body, just gorgeous. So, um, swooning over here!
Going Bohemian: Patchwork
The patchwork looks ranged from charming and boho to a bit dated and crafty rather than elevated.
Rainbows and Flower Power
And aside from the art pieces, my favorite looks were the sheer moments in flower power, and the rainbow crochet and embroider works. Gor – geous. Regardless of the message, you can always count on finding some amazing nuggets in every collection of the Dior house.