The Age of Consent Maria Grazia Chiuri’s teen years and visions of her mother and the women she knew then informed her latest collection for Dior
Arriving to find feminist manifestos splayed across the rafters in the tent housing the Fall 2020 Dior fashion show by Maria Grazia Chiuri isn’t a surprise at this point of her tenure chez Dior but boy did it hit home one day after Hollywood-producer-turned-sex-offender Harvey Weinstein’s trial ended in two convictions. The word “CONSENT” in flashing neon (signifying its on/off-again nature) in the context of all this women’s lib messaging timing couldn’t have been better especially when Hollywood and fashion front row heavies such as Sigourney Weaver, Demi Moore, Andie MacDowell, Rachel Brosnahan, Cara Delevingne, Karlie Kloss and Maya Hawke among others. The latter were found chatting backstage post-show, squad-goals style waiting to congratulate the designer.
It’s also not a surprise to learn that the neon was, in fact, a collaboration between the designer and feminist artist collective Claire Fontaine (the duo of Fulvia Carnevale and James Thornhill) as Chiuri’s love of design and craft extend well beyond fashion. The works will become part of an exhibit sponsored by Dior in Rome at the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art.
Each artist has a passion for the Italian 70s feminist Carla Lonzi whose words “lo dico io” or “I say I” in English was the name of the show and plastered across the entrance of the tent. Many of the expressions such as “Women’s Love is Unpaid Labour” or “We Are All Clitoridian Women” or “Women Raise the Upraising” were are derived from further writing by feminist writer Lonzi, her contemporary Silvia Federici and even Fontaine herself. Several signs equated Patriarchy with repression, climate emergency, CO2 and a love killer.
Some think Chiuri’s MO chez Dior is man-hating but she is nothing of the sort. She is happily married to Italian shirt maker Paolo Regini with whom she shares a son and daughter. Regini and Chiuri appear quite close in fact when photographed. And let’s not forget it was she who brought Pierpaolo Piccioli to Rome and they would work alongside one another like two peas in a pod for twenty years. Currently, the Dior women’s design team has several male designers and craftsmen. She simply uses her platform to help reignite the women’s movement.
Women have influenced her career choice; her mother was a seamstress who eventually opened her own shop in the 70s. Very feminist move indeed. This season it was not only the famous 70s feminists but the women that mom dressed and of a teenage Chiuri herself whose adolescent rebellion was naturally expressed through dress. She also looked to photos of other designers and their studios like one of progressive Italian fashion designer Germana Marucelli’s studio designed by 1960s Italian modernist and monochromatic artist Paolo Scheggi and portraits of Mila Schön and Carla Accardi.
So naturally the clothes (and the groovy music that played) followed suit while adding Dior house codes. Think jumpsuits, miniskirts, dressy shorts, sweaters and vests with shirts and ties; bold check patterns, blanket ponchos and capes with fringe trim and denim jean ensembles. Headscarves and leather newsboy caps paired with sensible shoes like Mary Janes, Earth-style boots, lace-up combat boots and flats further echoed 70s feminist sentiment the models displayed.
Silk fringe – a trend that’s emerging – appeared generously (and played peek-a-boo on one dress for “le pauvre mannequin” sentiment). One dress had an empire Penelope Tree look to it while on another in white with black piping. Embroidery was peppered throughout perhaps not merely for the pleasure of design but to keep those Indian women Chiuri employs with plenty to do.
As always new takes on the Bar in soft flannel plaids and grey pinstripes were shown with longer skirts. But what was most noticeable was the first look out that was a simple man’s suit in what looked a double know. More simple suits and dresses followed that if anything expressed an ease of dressing and looking good that seems to come with less hassle for a man.
In another manly reference, the set flooring was also a piece by Fontaine inspired by a photo of artist Henri Matisse. (As part of Bureau Betak’s new eco-conscious production methods, the flooring and carpeting will be donated to La réserve des Arts, an organization dedicated to repurposing art materials.) It depicted the artist drawing in his studio strewn with newspaper journals like floor tiles. It was done with the support of French newspaper Le Monde, one that is most likely run by men.