Paris Day 4: Maria Grazia Chiuri's Feminist Message for Dior Debut

The Hollywood Reporter

Maria Grazia Chiuri made history Friday afternoon in Paris when she presented her first ready to wear collection as the first female artistic director of the vaunted French fashion house of Dior.

The designer, who was previously at Valentino, showed a range of reality-based ready-to-wear, including denim and low heels, and used her gender as a selling point on T-shirts with the message, "We should all be feminists."

That followed a marketing push by the house online at and on social media channels, spotlighting female members of the Dior team, from PR assistants to seamstresses, sharing video anecdotes about women who inspire them, and urging followers to share on social using the hashtag #thewomanbehindmydress.

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The show was held at Musee Rodin on the Left Bank, and many of the brand's famous faces attended, including Diane Kruger. "I haven't been to a Dior show in 15 years," said the actress, who has modeled as a face of rivalry luxury goods brand Chanel. "But I have worked with Valentino and am here to support Maria Grazia Chiuri."

Rihanna was also in the seats, as was model Karlie Kloss and actress Jennifer Lawrence, who slipped by guests practically unnoticed, dressed casually in a biker jacket.

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On the runway, the designer took inspiration from fencing, opening with a white quilted cotton jacket embroidered with a red heart, worn with cropped white pants by a model with closely cropped hair.

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"I strive to be attentive and open to the world and to create fashion for the women of today," Chiuri wrote in the show notes. "Fashion that corresponds to their changing needs, freed from the stereotypical categories of masculine/feminine," she added, pointing out that the fencing uniform is essentially the same for woman as for men.

As the all-white looks evolved, they picked up more texture and adornment, with crochet tops and dresses, quilted jackets and dotted tulle ballerina skirts. She showed the house's famously feminine Bar jacket with jeans, and nodded to feminist icons with the soundtrack (Maya Angelou spoken word in one part) and certain 1970s-reminiscent looks, including a beige trench coat worn with a throwback Dior saddle bag slung across the back.

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Chiuri's vision for the house clearly includes wearable everyday clothes, not just show pieces. There was a standout pea coat, a navy crepe trapeze dress and more. Models wore their hair up in tight, no-nonsense buns.

The evening pieces flowed from the daytime pieces in a realistic manner, with biker jackets over tulle skirts, and dresses with athletic details including wide elastic bra straps spelling out brand-related slogans such as "Dior revolution." Zodiac signs and painterly tarot figures covered tulle corset gowns. On their feet, models walked easily in sneakers and low slingback heels.

It was certainly a zeitgesity approach (Theresa May in Great Britain, Hillary Clinton as the Democratic presidential candidate in the U.S., women's wealth growing over men's despite the wage gap). Whether or not women want to buy into feminism at luxury prices is the million-dollar question. Wonder how much that T-shirt will cost.

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