The Internet has turned six degrees of separation into two and created a global boarding pass for people to view the world. In the world of fashion, designers often travel for inspiration and exploration whose experiences are translated into design. For Dior Cruise 2020, Maria Grazia Chiuri tapped into African culture for a collection that embraced globalization and collaboration.
She hosted the show in Marrakech at the El Badi Palance. Marrakech has been an obsession for fashion designers, inspiring many collections of past. Morocco’s location serves as the meeting point between Europe and Africa and has long been an entry point in the motherland for European and American designers, artists, and travelers.
This collection was an example of history repeating itself but better. In 1967, Yves Saint Laurent released his Spring/Summer 1967 ‘African Collection’ and featured only light-skinned models and white models on the runway. The collection was inspired by YSL’s travels to Morrocco. He loved Morrocco and while he didn’t like to travel, he did enjoy going there. The collection featured wooden beads, African wax prints, and more. Back then, it was undoubtedly cultural appropriation, even though I truly believe Yves Saint Laurent appreciated the culture.
While he didn’t have dark skin women modeling the collection, he did have many of the Black models wear a heart while going down the runway. This signified his favorite models representing the collection, which just happened to be Black. The YSL brand would later go on to champion and supporting Black models by including them on his runways and declaring women like Iman, Dalma Callado and Katoucha Niane as his muses. According to the New York Times, Naomi Campbell credits YSL with getting her first French Vogue cover.
Chiuri, who often gets blasted for placating to millennials, in my opinion, is actually tapping into the culture and able to connect the past to the present while envisioning a promising future for fashion. Everything that YSL did wrong in 1967, Maria Grazia Chiuri ensured was corrected with Dior. It’s a great example of learning from past history and utilizing one’s platform to shine light on marginalized communities.
Chiuri partnered with African designers and communities. For example, in the above look, Dior captioned, “the wool coat featured hand-painted henna details and a fringed hem made specifically for the event by the women weavers of Sumano.” Sumano is helping to revive traditional artisanship and Chiuri supported that, even though the brand is small, and their social footprint doesn’t have millions of followers.
Maria Grazia Chiuri also paid homage to the globalization of the African diaspora by not having a myopic view of African culture and reach. She partnered with London based British-Jamaican designer Wales Bonner as well as New York-based artist Mickalene Thomas, who both revisited the ‘New Look’ silhouette from Dior’s first show in 1947.
This show was beautiful and a great representation of true collaborations between cultures and a high fashion house using their platform for good and not just profit. This was so necessary when we’ve had experiences like YSL and even the Stella McCartney collection released in 2016, which co-opted vs. celebrating African prints.
Congratulations to Maria Grazia Chiuri and Dior on the excellent execution of the Dior Cruise 2020 collection. Check out our favorite looks on Black models.