Maria Grazia Chiuri on her metaphysical-mode Cruise collection for Dior
Christian Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri just staged a magisterial metaphysical fashion show and cruise collection in Athens on Thursday night.
So, we caught up with the Roman-born designer to hear about her latest inspiration for her Dior Cruise 2022 collection; female deities in fashion; creating during covid; her next plans for haute couture in the first week of July; and opening new pop-ups this summer.
FashionNetwork.com: Where did you first get the idea of taking Dior to Greece?
Maria Grazia Chiuri: Honestly, it came from this very strong image of Monsieur Dior in our archive, of these beautiful models underneath the caryatids of the Acropolis in 1951. When I saw it I knew immediately what I would do this year. As the picture is from '51, I thought it could be nice to celebrate its anniversary in Greece. Though it has been intense work to organize this show I am very happy that it was possible. Also, it’s an amazing chance to look at our own references. I’m from Rome and my father from Puglia, so I am part of this Magna Graecia culture. It is something that you study when you are young from different points of view and now I try to make something different again.
FNW: When you were younger did you go to Greece?
MGC: I went very frequently to Greece for holidays. My first time was when I was 18 years old, with my friends. The typical trip you do when you finish high school: we went around the islands; saw the archeology; and visited the Meteora monasteries. It was super exciting. She googles a shot of the monasteries on her iPhone.
FNW: Why did you also include references to Marlene Dietrich?
MGC: I think she is very important in the history of Mr. Dior, and I was fascinated because I found these images of her dressed up as the mythological figure of Leda. An image that immediately I realized I had to work on to realize my vision for Dior this season. It was super cool! For me what was interesting was to reflect on this super soft dress compared to the idea of a couturier like Mr. Dior with more architectural designers. These two languages are completely different.
So, I wanted to have a dialogue between these different visions about clothes that were super interesting. I tried to translate the references of Monsieur Dior, like for example his houndstooth, into a Greek element. We realized this in silk with this local supplier, and the result was super light. The idea was to show dresses with the sneakers. The idea of movement, an active woman, a very good relationship with the body and with freedom. Right now I think people need the notion of movement in these difficult times.
FNW: I noticed on the moodboard that you have been reading Joseph Campbell’s famous treatise, Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine.
MGC: Yes, yes I’m completely obsessed with him! For me Joseph Campbell is an incredible anthropological thinker, he’s super clever. I really want to celebrate Mother Earth, the female divine.
FNW: But how do you interpret his ideas into clothing?
MGC: I think via movement. If you think about it, fashion in some ways was a way to think of women as the consumer. Where men created clothes that constrained women through restricting their physical movements – from high heels to very tight dresses.
FNW: I noticed that you referenced Casa Iolas [a recent exhibition on gallerist and art collector Alexander Iolas]. How did this exhibition on the famed collector impact the collection?
MGC: Yes, I loved it. That was last winter in Milano, in this beautiful building, curated by Francesco Vezzoli. It was incredible, amazing, and he promotes the idea of metaphysics. I’m also a huge fan of De Chirico and I hope to create the same atmosphere. This idea of the metaphysics that you see the shadow, but where you don’t see very well the human figure. I think it’s beautiful.
FNW: How has it been doing so many shows and videos during Covid?
MGC: It’s been super intense to work during this time. It is not easy for everybody, and that will stay the case, at least till November.
FNW: I see [Dior CEO] Pietro Beccari has opened two stores in Mykonos in Greece, to coincide with this show in Athens.
MGC: Haha, that is his job. I do another job, it is his problem, and I don’t want to know anything about it; I work here. I have my personal office and studio here on the Seine. You know I live in the now, I live in the moment. I actually live in front of the Luxembourg Gardens, which is beautiful. But you know I don’t see my apartment much; I spend so much time here!
FNW: Of course, big designers for major houses work very hard.
MGC: Dior is a big machine.
FNW: Yeah, the Dior machine needs to be fed.
MGC: No, what I mean by 'Dior machine' is that I feel a lot of responsibility. There are an awful lot of suppliers and people who work for Dior and nobody speaks about them much. We are in a really difficult moment for many companies, and for a lot of these normal people that worked really hard in this period. So I feel responsible for them. Honestly, I never worked in my life like I did this past year and a half. It’s been two weeks that we’ve been working from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. I never go back home to dinner.
FNW: We are a month away from the season, can you tell me a little bit about couture?
MGC: It’s super, we will do the show in a structure in the Rodin Museum garden, over the fountain. There will be an exhibition of the space after the couture show. I’m so happy, it’s beautiful, it’s a completely new artwork, with a new artist that I never worked with before.
Last year, after we left the set built for Dior by Judy Chicago for a few days, over 10,000 people came to visit it. So this time we will leave the installation for several weeks. We expect a lot of visitors.
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