“When women strike the world stops.” “Patriarchy = climate emergency.” “Consent. Consent. Consent ” . Since arriving at Christian Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri has used her runways to amplify feminist discourse. But this show resonated more powerfully than some of the others. Yesterday, Harvey Weinstein’s New York rape trial ended in a guilty verdict. This afternoon, as we sat assembled underneath the flashing neon signs made in collaboration with the anonymous artist collective Claire Fontaine. It was impossible not to feel a twinge of vindication—the righteous fury of the #MeToo movement replaced temporarily by satisfaction. Finally, what women have been saying for years is having real-life consequences.
Chiuri dates her own feminist awakening to her 1970s youth in Rome, a time of marches, when relations between the sexes. What women chose to wear, were being politicized for the first time. At a preview she said this collection started with snapshots of herself as a teenager with her seamstress mom. “It’s a very personal visual diary,” Chiuri explained. “The ’70s gave me the attitude I have.”
Though the show opened with a tailored pantsuit, Chiuri has moved well beyond the house’s famous Bar jacket. In keeping with her starting point, this was Dior at its most informal and relaxed, an elevation of the quotidian: The designer says she identifies most with Marc Bohan’s tenure at the house. Bohan presided over Dior in those pivotal ’70s years, as prêt-à-porter was emerging . And the once sacrosanct diktats of designers were starting to lose their sway. He dressed women who had embraced new, freer lifestyles, even launching a Dior ski line. In a sort of homage, on the runway today there were logo puffers, denim jackets and jeans, blanket checks modeled on a Bohan-designed bias-cut checked ensemble, jumpsuits in cotton or leather, and those dependable signifiers of youth: fishnets and combat boots. The season’s message tee read, “I Say I,” a phrase lifted from the Italian critic and activist Carla Lonzi that is more or less the 1970s equivalent of the millennial “you do you.”
There was something almost humble about the collection, all the silk fringe that Chiuri used for her evening looks notwithstanding. It wasn’t workaday, but it wasn’t the skintight latex we saw elsewhere, either. Real clothes. Chiuri, who sat at the table of honor across from Emmanuel Macron at last night’s Élysée Palace dinner for the Paris fashion community, has adopted what some might consider a contrarian attitude for a designer: “I want you to remember the woman—her attitude, her taste—not the designer who made her clothes.” That ties quite neatly back to the Claire Fontaine signs. I do I; you do you.