- Marjorie van Elven |
The conversation about women’s empowerment has been getting more and more prominent in recent years, and haute couture did not take long to join it. While Chanel may be credited with the most open defense of feminism by turning its fashion show into an actual feminist protest in 2014, picket signs included, many have raised their eyebrows as the brand’s creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, is known for his rather controversial remarks. Recently, he opposed the #metoo movement, saying he doesn't "believe a single word of it" and adding: “if you don’t want your pants pulled about, don’t become a model”. Which is why Maria Grazia Chiuri, the first female designer of Christian Dior, comes therefore as a more suitable spokesperson for women’s empowerment in the fashion world. Appointed in 2016, all her collections to date have celebrated strong, independent women. Dior’s Cruise Collection for Spring/Summer 2019, showcased this week at a horse riding course in Chantilly, France, was no different.
Mexican escaramuzas: the latest source of strong women to inspire a Dior collection
This time, Chiuri was inspired by the escaramuzas, women horse riders who formed an all-female team in the 1950s to claim the right to take part in Charreada, the Mexican rodeo equivalent in which riders have to perform several challenging routines before a crowd.
”I was fascinated to see pictures of these women, who wanted to keep their femininity even though they were in the rodeo”, the designer told AFP. “They wore makeup, bright lipstick colors… That’s precisely the message I wanted to convey with my collection, the idea that you can be strong without renouncing your femininity”.
The choice to showcase the collection at the Chantilly riding course was not for nothing, as the town is linked both to lace making and French equestrian tradition.
Dior’s 2019 Cruise collection includes traditionally feminine elements like full tulle skirts, lace and embroidery, contrasted with more assertive pieces like ties, thick leather belts and black rubber boots.
In addition to the escaramuzas, Chiuri took inspiration from the mythological image of the Amazon, another figure who trespassed gender barriers. Some of the pieces featured in this Spring/Summer 2019 collection featured a twist to the traditional French print Toile de Jouy: tigers and serpents were added to the peaceful pastoral scenes usually depicted by this type of print.
Another example of Chiuri’s combination of dantiness and sturdiness can be seen in the pairing of jackets in Japanese cotton with pleated skirts that resemble Dior’s iconic new look silhouette.
Pictures: courtesy of Dior, shot by Estelle Hanania; courtesy of Dior, shot by Adrien Dirand