'Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?' This was the question posed by Linda Nochlin's essay in 1971 and today explored by Dior's Creative Director Maria Grazia Chiuri for her third ready to wear collection for the house. Guests entered the Rodin museum under a giant sculpture featuring a quote from the photographer Niki de Saint Phalle, who's 'feminine creativity' was often dismissed whilst on their seats they were welcomed with a copy of Nochlin's essay. 'It is necessary to give these different and specific artists their due, for it's they who break the mould of the traditionally male discourse in art history, and in fashion,' read the show notes and from look one it was clear that this spring summer 2018 collection was an homage to them.
Tailored denim, dinosaur motifs on knits, stripy Breton tops some printed with Nochlin's essay title, checkerboard prints on coats trimmed with Christian Dior branding and 1960s style baby doll were in abundance. The former Dior designer Marc Bohan was also referenced (who it turns out Niki de Saint Phalle was also friends with and modeled for in the 1960s) in the form of oversized polka dots and little safari style jackets. And then of course there were plenty of pretty tulle style dresses, that have become somewhat Grazia Chiuri’s signature, this season many came with mosaic style sequin detailing whilst others featured tarot cards as embroideries.
'Relevant' and 'wearable,' are two adjectives that are bandied around a lot when it comes to ready-to-wear now and especially when it comes to Grazia Chiuri's vision for Dior. And whilst, she has received a lot of critical flak from those who think the house should be more about creativity rather than commercial-abilty she has remained committed to her vision regardless. And she's selling. Last season her feminist slogan t-shirts were all over Instagram (and knocked off by high street retailers) while there was three month long waiting lists for her kitten heels with those dress-maker sling-backs. And for spring summer 18, it's going to be all about those fishnet boots and little cross body bags embossed with 'J'ADior,' judging by the speed at which everyone was trying to gram them.
Meanwhile, her front row was also reflective of the new Dior girl with influencers including Aimee Song, Camila Coelho and Doina Ciobanu posting photos of Nochlin's book on Instagram stories whilst waiting for the show to start, while millennial muses including Emily Ratajkowski and Whinnie Harlow were also present. In an era where fashion brands need to be more than just about a really great product, you get the feeling Grazia Chiuri, with her message of championing female power, has it sussed.