Fashion

Exclusive: Maria Grazia Chiuri on her vision of Dior and being political

by Monica Mong
27.09.2017
We are the only Malaysian press to interview Maria Grazia Chiuri at the Dior show and here's what she has to say.

This Paris Fashion Week is all about Dior.

Right now, Musée des Arts Décoratifs is running the “Christian Dior, Couturier du Rêve” (Christian Dior. Dream Couturier) exhibition, the largest fashion exhibition to-date in Paris, that celebrates the journey of Christian Dior over the past 70 years.

And once again, I was invited for another exclusive interview (the first was at the Fall 2017 show) with Maria Grazia Chiuri backstage at Musée Rodin after the Dior Spring/Summer 2018 show.

This Dior collection was inspired by artist Niki de Saint Phalle, who was driven by emotions and embodied the beauty of her time. More adolescent than androgynous, small and fiery, she exhibits a style of dressing that’s both iconic and personal.

And the collection also took references from Marc Bohan and his little dresses and jumpsuits.

Then there was also the essay of Linda Nochlin in 1971 that stated: “Why have there not been great women artists?”, which was greatly emphasised by Maria Grazia Chiuri for this show.

Here are my 10 minutes with this inspirational woman on what the Dior Spring/Summer 2018 collection was all about.

Going political for Spring 2018

There’s a lot going on in this collection. How would you describe it in one sentence?
Enjoy fashion, that's my message. I want women to express themselves in a playful way with fashion.

 

How did you find out about the work by Linda Nochlin? How has it been important in shaping the way you present this time?
Because I think we are being brought into this argument that sometimes that women are born with certain kind of limitation.

I think Linda Nochlin was so strong, and rebellious that she decided to create something completely unusual for that time. We need to really remember that.

 

Niki de Saint Phalle was often perceived as superficial or naïve because of her work but if we see the Nanas today, it was actually very political. Does that apply to what you did too?
It is very important to reflect about this argument because fashion is related to body and body is something important to women and men.

So, we have to reflect fashion like speaking another language. It's not just about clothing. It’s more about enjoying fashion. We are all different and we play with fashion. It's a totally different point of view on dressing.

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But what you're doing here with Dior seems political.
What do you mean political? If you think you are political, then you are political. It’s normal in my point view.

But I think everything is political in a way. If you have a point of view, you are political. So, yes, I think I may be political (laughs)!

 

So, your approach is really working. Why do you think feminist fashion works?
I think I want to support the girls, especially young girls who look to fashion and have an idea of fashion. I am so happy to start working in the industry when there wasn't so much information about fashion.

Like the idea that everyone has to follow a model but I prefer to play with dressing and make my own look. I think we have to start speaking this way, especially with the new generation.

(Watch the highlights of the Dior show below)

Dior Spring-Summer 2018 Key Looks

Is it important for you to make your collection wearable?
Yes. I don't design the dresses for myself, I do the dress for other women and I prefer women to dress my pieces in their personal style; and express themselves the way they want to. That’s my job.

On casting Sasha Pivovarova

Niki de Saint Phalle is famous for representing larger ladies. Is that the message you were trying to send today?

I think that there are many women who sometimes believe that it's very difficult to do what they really love. So using Niki de Saint Phalle as an example and getting inspired by her is something positive.

She was unbelievable because she started as a model but she has so much passion for art that she decided to move into art.

So, that's what I wanted to say, that if you have a big passion, you have to do what you really love.

In fact, I was so happy to open the show with Sasha (Pivovarova) because she’s a model but she really loves art and she studied hard for it; and she is 30 years old. In some ways, she’s just another ordinary girl, but she is also a model and she has big passion.

 

Maria's vision of Dior

What does the collection say about your vision for Dior?
I really enjoy fashion. I started to work in fashion because that's what I love and this is my way working for Dior.

 

So, given a chance to redo the collection again, what would you like to change about it?
I don't know (laughs)! Designing a collection is not a plan, it’s pretty much a woman’s instinct.

Fashion is all about a dream. You might find something now... or you might not. You just don't know. I'm lucky that I enjoy my job and I can play in my job.

 

What are the pieces you look forward to wearing?
The jacket. I have this jacket before anyone else (laughs). I have a lot of favourites but honestly, I want the denim but it's not possible to have it.

(Swipe gallery below to see more photos of the collection)

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You often work with the archive to find inspiration. What do you see in the heritage and the history of Dior?

To move forward into the future, you need to know your past and I think, in the past, there are great references to build a good future. The memory is a sign. I believe in memory and not the idea of nostalgia. There's a difference.

If you see the exhibition and when you look the designs by Saint Laurent, for example, you see that their silhouettes are similar to those of Monsieur Dior himself.

And when you look at Marc Bohan, the look and feel are closer to the future Saint Laurent, but why? It's not because it’s a different design, but because the women have different needs at their time.

Just like the Dior grey (used prominently post-World War II). I don't believe that after the war, women would want to walk around the city dressed in pink or yellow.

 

So, who is the Dior woman now?
All the women who really want to express themselves freely!

(Swipe gallery below to see who's on the front row of the Dior show)

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Chiara Ferragni
Jeanette Aw.JPG
Jeannette Aw
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Karlie Kloss
Lying Zhao.JPG
Lying Zhao
Natalia Vodianova.JPG
Natalia Vodianova
Naomi Watts.JPG
Naomi Watts
Olivia Palermo.JPG
Olivia Palermo
Winnie Harlow.JPG
Winnie Harlow
Ziwen Zang.JPG
Ziwen Zang
Alexa Chung.JPG
Alexa Chung
Arizona Muse.JPG
Arizona Muse
Eva Herzigova.JPG
Eva Herzigova

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