Rihanna and Natalie Portman dressed to the nines. Jennifer Lawrence opted for jeans. And most of the stars passed unnoticed amid the sea of celebrities awash inside Paris' Rodin Museum on Friday. The great equalizer for them all was a chance to glimpse one of the year's biggest fashion spectacles: the hugely-awaited debut from Christian Dior's first female designer – its first in its 70-year history.
Being the first woman in history to head up one of the most influential dressers of women in history, Maria Grazia Chiuri certainly had to make a statement during her first Dior show. Make it, she did.
Most debuts at storied fashion labels pay homage to the house DNA — and this should especially be the case at grand Dior, which saved post-war French fashion with 1947's groundbreaking "New Look." But for the S/S 2017 show, Grazia Chiuri was having none of it. Gone were the references to the famed Bar Jacket, the full, thick A-line skirt, and any flavors of the post-War style. In its place was what the program notes termed a whole "new lexicon" of style, and Grazia Chiuri did indeed give the collection her unique stamp.
One of the most highly-discussed pieces of the collection – a t-shirt that read, “We Should All Be Feminists.” As the Financial Times’ Jo Ellison wrote on the heels of the show, “Chiuri’s feminist leanings are similarly broad, an expression of all the things a woman can be, rather than those they cannot.” Grazia Chiuri told the publication: “I believe in equal opportunity, that’s what the real meaning of feminist is for me, and probably for my generation. I grew up in a family where my father and mother taught me I could do what I want in my life.”
Grazia Chiuri, herself, at age 52, “is a very different sort of creative director—one whose no-nonsense pragmatism seems uniquely suited to the task at hand,” according to Vogue. “This kind of pressure could be dangerous if you don’t maintain balance,” Grazia Chiuri told the publication after taking the helm of Dior. She generally arrives at work at nine and leaves by seven. “I don’t like to work at night,” she says.
“I prefer to go out to dinner, to see some friends. I put a lot of passion in this job, but I want to maintain control of my life.” She returns to Rome for the weekends to spend quality time with her husband, Paolo Regini, and their son, Nicolo, now 24, who is studying engineering there. The couple’s daughter, Rachele, 20, who is studying art at Goldsmiths in London, regularly makes the Eurostar commute to see her mom.
She comes from Valentino – another highly established design house. In 2008, following founder Valentino Garavani’s retirement and the brief tenure of Alessandra Facchinetti, Grazia Chiuri and her longtime Fendi collaborator Pierpaolo Piccioli were appointed co–creative directors of Valentino. “In short order, they used the house codes to create a compellingly ethereal image for the brand, along with a strong accessories base—a strategy that reestablished Valentino as a global influencer. (When Chiuri moved to Dior, Piccioli assumed the overall creative directorship for Valentino.).”