The rise of the female direction is prominent at fashion week, from New York’s first all-hijab collection by Indonesian designer, to Paris with the unveiling of the first Dior season by Maria Grazia Chiuri – just one of the many legacies being made in the works in the world of fashion.
Fresh and prim from Valentino, Chiuri was rumoured to be the new creative director back in July, and has since given the beloved house of Dior a new perspective with a female head. Even though she has become the first woman to pave the way towards the succession of the house with her own twist, Chiuri had emphasised that she wanted to continue the legacy that her predecessor, Raf Simons (who is now at Calvin Klein) had created when he rebranded the name of Dior four years ago.
With a stunning first show that reeled in the likes of Rihanna, Kate Moss and supermodel Karlie Kloss to the front row, it’s been argued that Chiuri, with her new position at Dior, makes her the most “powerful woman in Parisian fashion since Coco Chanel.” As the models walked down the runway with shirts that splayed the words “we should all be feminists”, a reminisce of Adiche’s famous TED talk, it became apparent that this significant moment in the industry is set into stone as the house, since the rebranding of Simons’ modernised woman, as a symbol of womanhood itself. (Adichie was also in the front row.) During such a time in society and era of cultural change in the name of women and femininity, this was a perfect opportunity for Chiuri to step outside of her comfort norm at Valentino to explore and embrace the feminist symbolism at her appointment as director.
From quilted jackets, cropped trousers and even the classic Dior “bar” silhouette, redefined from the archives to even Valentino-eque influenced silhouettes in the flow of the dresses; Chiuri was keen to embrace both the traditional reflection of the house, as well as addressing the new millennials of consumers in luxury products. A change from the once artistic and romantic look of Dior from John Galliano’s era to the downsized of minimalism from Raf Simons, Chiuri embraced the now trend of luxe sport with craftsmanship that resonates from Valentino. Low heels and sneakers were a must, and minimal makeup was the key look that Chiuri has taken responsibility of in order to move the house of Dior forward to become more relevant for today’s young consumers while still staying truth to the houses’ history as the first woman in in the house.
Lanvin also saw legacy in the making following the departure of long time design and beloved Alber Elbaz, who is most renowned for giving Lanvin the vision of the modern woman. The debut creative designer, Bouchra Jarrar, ceased all chaos that apprehended the house following Elbaz’s withdrawal to create a beautiful collection with minimalist tailoring while still embodying a romantic and visionary woman – feminine but still strong. Like Chiuri, it seems that while Jarrar is keen to move the house of Lanvin forward in her own strengths, she has decided to stay relatively true to the house and of course, continue the legacy of Elbaz’s work, as “someone that she fully respects.” In an era where the fashion industry is made for women (consumers), shouldn’t I be obvious that it should be made by women too?
Honourable moments during this massive change in the industry at Paris Fashion Week also go out to Rihanna with her Fenty x Puma collection that was unveiled only hours prior to the Dior show. As a female artist and voice in both the fashion industry and in popular culture, Rihanna’s vision has seen Puma go up in profits and translate a style more accommodated towards a broader target market. Chloé’s Clare Keller, Comme des Garçon’s Rei Kawakubo and Vivien Westwood of her eponymous label also get a round of applause for conceiving important collections that symbolise and empower the women of today and tomorrow, both in and out of the industry.