This week, Darcey Sergison explores how Maria Grazia Chiuri has made Dior a force of feminist power and how her collections have given a voice to feminist protest.
Fashion has long been a political statement. Whether intentionally political or adopted as a political symbol, this has accorded with colours and clothes for decades. However, recently there has been a rise in the use of fashion as having intended political meaning. Feminists have been a driving force behind this, in the use of the clothes and the runway as political protest.
Maria Grazia Chiuri has joined this force, as the current Creative Director at Dior has reimagined femininity and given voice to many feminist narratives. Despite feminists arguing that women should not rely on clothes to create an identity, Maria Grazia Chiuri has shown how fashion can be reclaimed as not something that objectifies women but instead can empower them and be used to show a message. Whether this be a slogan or a colour, fashion is now a feminist weapon.
Since the rise of the alt right in today’s politics, seen in the Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump as the US President, this has questioned the security of women’s rights and the search for equality. This has led many to protest these outcomes and fight for their right to equality. Fashion has been a mechanism for this.
In particular, Maria Grazia Chiuri has consistently incorporated feminist imagery and slogans into her collections. As the first female artistic director she has represented the female voice within this established fashion house, and in doing so has put feminism as a priority in her collections, partly with the use of slogans. Despite incorporating the classic feminine silhouettes of the clenched in waist and flowing skirts, Maria has added feminist slogan t-shirts into the mix.
Maria’s arguably most recognised piece includes her ‘we should all be feminists’ t-shirt from her first collection. This slogan being the title of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s famous essay discussing what it is to be a feminist today. Dior incorporating works like these into their collections shows an alliance with empowering women through fashion, rather than pitting them against one another as is often illustrated in this industry.
The Chanel Spring 2015 collection was the start of the latest wave of feminist protests entering the runway. The runway was now to be seen as a space for declarations for or against the politics of the time. Hence, this illustrates how creative directors of different fashion houses can incorporate their causes with their fashion, making political statements on the runway.
As part of Dior’s transformation as a feminist brand, we can also consider the models which Maria chooses to represent her brand. Modern feminists call for complete representation of all women, including those of different races. This has been reflected on the runway as well as in campaigns. Although in the future, diversity should only increase on the runway.
But with the clear use of slogans as being crucial to Maria’s collection, her call for a Dior Revolution has clearly been seen in her works. This is particularly clear in the Fall 2019 campaign: Sisterhood is Powerful. Having co-founded the Sisterhood is Global Institute, with the prominent feminist writer Simone de Beauvoir, the campaign aims at bringing attention to grass root activists on issues such as human trafficking, showing solidarity with women across the globe. With campaign images reflecting popular ‘we can do it’ posters, Maria uses this collection as more than just a fashion statement but also a feminist statement. Dior is now above the high fashion world as it has incorporated Maria’s authentic passion for feminism.
Overall, fashion has a past of being a political symbol but now with modern feminism has been adopted as a political statement. With clothes now used as an empowering statement, whether that be through exposure or modesty, feminism and fashion can now be an alliance. Runways are extending protest barriers from the streets to different spheres. Feminism is adopting the power of fashion as a political statement, meaning every day your choice of fashion is making a statement about you – so choose wisely.