The Heritage of Dior vs the Coolness of Maria Grazia Chiuri
The need of the hour is understated cool. It’s what you see on Alessandro Michele’s hipster clothes or in Nicolas Ghesquiere’s combat-styled wardrobe. It is also what we saw during Raf Simons’ reign at Dior, with patent leather thigh-high boots, feathered dresses and utilitarian sneakers. But post his departure in October 2015, the Parisian fashion house has been playing it safe with their studio team engineering exceptional silhouettes. Unfortunately ‘exceptional’ doesn’t cut it anymore.
With the luxury industry slated to have a growth rate of barely 2 percent this year (according to reports by Bain & Company and Altagamma, the Italian trade association), it is definitely a great move to poach a designer who is famous for resurrecting brands, taking necessary risks and adding oodles of ‘cool’ to the runway. So, after almost 7 decades of master couturiers dictating feminine silhouettes, Dior finally opened its doors to their first woman creative director – Maria Grazia Chiuri. While feminists worldwide bask in the glory of yet another triumph, this move could be path-breaking for all three – Dior, Chiuri and the fashion universe.
Exactly what Dior needs right now is this rocker-chic designer with kohl-rimmed eyes, slicked back hair and fingers busy with ornate rings. Known for her admirable contribution to the world of accessories, Maria Grazia Chiuri dabbled with Fendi’s leather goods line in 1989. Joined by Pierpaolo Piccioli, they worked together for a decade, and were the minds behind the famous Baguette bag. The duo later moved to Valentino in 1999. The label’s founder- Garavani Valentino had just retired, and the herculean task of resurrecting the brand was nothing short of impossible. The professional couple, who shared a similar vision, dramatically managed to change the kind of clothes that were being created at Valentino. And all in stealth mode. One of their most-admirable accessories is the Rockstud line that is practically on most of their bags, shoes and every other post on Instagram. Perhaps their favourite theme was the Roman collection that showed in Spring 2014 – an instant hit from runway to red-carpet. From Olivia Wilde at the Oscars this year to Lorde and Rachel McAdams at the Met Gala, Valentino has garnered legions of fans – celebrities and fashionistas alike.
As Chiuri moves on to the heritage ateliers of Dior, Piccioli continues as the sole creative director at Valentino. Despite being a forerunner in the fashion industry, conceptualising ready-to-wear and couture shows, and designing successful leather goods, Chiuri has never lead a fashion house by herself. But what sets her apart is her sense of undulating practicality and instinctiveness, that we’ve seen season after season.
With so much history behind one designer, we’re expecting a stellar wardrobe (and hopefully Dior will launch an ‘It’ accessory soon). How much of the archives will she explore, and whether she rises up to this grand challenge, only the September show shall tell.
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