In a new interview with the Guardian's Jess Cartner-Morley, Maria Grazia Chiuri has opened up about her relationship with feminism and interest in exploring the evolving idea of the "modern woman" at Dior. Since taking over last September, the former Valentino creative director has refocused the house's ultra feminine heritage, but still aims to continue Christian Dior's examination of female archetypes and expectations. For her this journey isn't about "the old stereotypes, of what a feminist looks like or doesn't look like," but rather is a reflection on the word feminine — a term she noticed echoing across all conversations related to the brand.
She explains that as a woman, her meditation of the subject has naturally moved into different spaces, adding "if Dior is about femininity, then it is about women. And not about what it was to be a woman 50 years ago, but to be a woman today." Decades after Dior himself began to unpack this topic, she continues his work, informed by decades and waves of feminist theory. Her own own relationship with texts like Clarissa Estés' Women Who Run with the Wolves has seen her commit to making the house's musings on feminism about more than delicate shapes and empty "girl power" rhetorics.
This melding of past and present is personified by her duel inspirations, Christian Dior and her daughter Rachel — one a legend who was inspired by the idea of the modern woman, the other an example of it in her own life. Reading Dior's autobiography Christian Dior et Moi before she began at the house, Maria was moved by his approach to design, "When he spoke about his job, he would say, this dress would be perfect for this woman. He wasn't making the dresses to please himself, he was making them for the women he dressed."
In turn, Rachel is perhaps a reminder of the kind of woman who would have inspired her predecessor. "I listen to her because she is the new generation, and because she doesn't say anything to please me. I need her real, honest opinion. It is impossible to work in fashion now if you don't try to understand the new world." Safe to say, she's doing more than understanding the new woman — she's dressing her.
Text Wendy Syfret
Photography Mitchell Sams