Presented within the grounds of the Musee Rodin on the Left Bank, The Thinker presciently looked on as 60 exquisite exits were sent forth by Maria Grazia Chiuri. She is the first female designer at Dior, a fact not to be forgotten, as it fuels so much of what she creates and how she approaches the task of redefining the Dior legacy.
For the SS23 she was inspired by – or rather guided by – Josephine Baker, the amazingly talented African-American singer and dancer who came to live in Paris in the 1920s, later taking French Citizenship, and who coincidentally included Dior in her epic wardrobe. For the staging of the show, Grazia Chiuri once again (they first worked together in 2020 on the Moroccan colldction) collaborated with the African-American artist Mickalene Thomas whose work thoughtfully explores femininity too and power, creating a set featuring = giant, collaged portraits of women.
A fierce line-up of entertainers, actors, TV stars and activists gazed out from the walls of the show space, including Eartha Kitt, Nina Simone, Lena Horne, Dorothy Dandridge and more. And while the collection was sprinkled with some showbiz shimmying, to be expected with Josephine Baker in the house, the minuscule micro-beads, burnished gold laminate and lush caviar crushed velvet were accompanied by a slew of austere wool tailoring that gave the whole collection a poignant resonance.
Following last season’s folk romance, inspired by the Ukrainian tree of life and in support of Ukraine – this had an equally relevant message: one of bravery, enlightenment, free speech and a free spirit at its core. Entitled “the craft of thought” the craft was exceptional, seamless, and the tailored pieces reminiscent of the 1940s, a nod perhaps to Baker’s membership of the French Resistance. Christian Dior’s younger sister Catherine Dior was also a member of the French Resistance and imprisoned by the Gestapo in 1944. But this wasn’t simply about history, era’s and vintage, it was serious and subtle, modern couture. Not a wave but a whisper. We are in.
Photography courtesy of Dior.