Maria Grazia Chiuri, the head of French fashion house, Christian Dior, sits across from me, swirling her latte, tapping her fingernails against her phone. We sit in a Paris cafe not far from the Dior atelier and flagship store. With dark, kohl lined eyes, Chiuri is a fascinating woman; she comes across as blunt, but her character is kind and attentive. Her thick Italian accent reveals wit and wisdom, derived from designing ridiculously high-end clothing her entire life. If she sounds this smart speaking her second language English, I can only imagine how sharp she is in her native tongue.
This is as far as my daydream takes me. In reality, I’m sitting in my dorm drinking a 2 dollar Dunkin iced coffee, and, instead of conversing with Chiuri, I’m listening to her chat with Tim Blanks on the Business of Fashion podcast. To my chagrin, this is as close as I am to a good conversation with her. Chiuri had always amazed me, even before I knew who she was, or the brands she stood behind. I first fell in love with her work through Valentino’s Fall 2016 line. In those 17 minutes, I heard her creative voice, and she spoke through tulle and leather. When she took over Creative Direction at Dior, however, is what really changed the game for the industry.
When Chiuri took Raf Simons’ place at Dior in 2015, the industry was shocked. Beloved Raf, known for perfecting the woman’s every curve, delicate and crafted like a flower from the ground, gone – leaving a real woman in his place, one with a much different vision. There’s something different about creating art, products, and goods, through the female eye. The new clothes showed a sign of intelligence, tailoring, and movability not previously associated with Dior’s brand.
A breath of fresh air, there Chiuri was, at the helm of a couture house, starting her reign with one printed cotton tee shirt. Fencing vests with embroidered bees, pleated skirts, and delicate tulle! It became clear that Chiuri Dior was to become a symbol of fierce femininity. Defining the modern woman, that is Chiuri’s goal.
“I think we have to respect this heritage, but at the same time, we have to move this heritage in the future. I look around; I take a lot of inspiration… but at the same time, my idea is to make this element contemporary for modern women,” says Chiuri to Blanks.
As a fashion design major myself, the work and research she puts into each collection amazes me, season after season. I do hope, one day, I can meet her and thank her for everything she’s done for women that want to feel empowered in the clothes they wear. Luxury today is still seen as a precious, exclusive bubble, but by speaking out on issues that affect all women, everywhere, Chiuri is determined to pop that bubble.