Maria Grazia Chiuri Debuts at Dior to (Very) Mixed Reviews

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While it is true that this was not a very Diorific debut, the old adage that any publicity is good publicity holds true.

If in the last few days Dior’s Instagram page didn’t send across the message that Maria Grazia Chiuri’s debut would carry a feminist message, then surely her debut collection did.

In a very, very highly anticipated debut – after all, Dior has been designer-less again for several seasons now – the industry’s finest descended on the Musée Rodin to witness the work of Dior’s first-ever female designer. In the audience were such other notable designers as Alber Elbaz, Christian Louboutin, and even Chiuri’s former Valentino design partner, Pier Paolo Piccioli. Familiar faces (strong feminists, some would say) like Jennifer Lawrence and Rihanna were there in support, an apt show of force given the millennials we would later find out Chiuri is targeting.

Photo: Courtesy of Imaxtree

With a simple set and no concrete display indicating that something really big was about to happen, the show kicked off with a rather disappointing display of T-shirts (some read, “We Should All Be Feminists,” which one could argue is a rather predictable theme for a first female designer), far-too-simple chokers, and athletic straps bearing the words “J’Adior”. There was some fencing inspiration, far too many voluminous organza skirts, and almost no easily identifiable Dior codes or silhouettes.

Almost immediately, social media was rife with criticism and negative comments. “This isn’t the Dior we know,” one commenter debated with another. “The chokers look like Forever 21.” “The bag looks like Moschino.” “The straps look like Calvin Klein”. “The last few gowns look exactly like Valentino.” And so on and so forth. (The commentary continues well into the next day.)

Would we really want to pile the pressure on Chiuri and lose another great, as we did with Raf?

While it is true that this was not a very Diorific debut, the old adage that any publicity is good publicity holds true. After all, the entire world is talking about Dior right now. Perhaps our expectations of Chiuri were too high. Perhaps six weeks is not enough time for a designer to acquaint herself with a brand, sift through the archives, and design a 64-look collection. Would we really want to pile the pressure on her and lose another great, as we did with Raf? Or perhaps we are all forgetting another time in recent memory when Hedi Slimane showed his first collection for Saint Laurent and negative commentary went into overdrive. Remember that? Perhaps this is Dior’s attempt at commercializing a runway collection and guaranteeing sell-out success just as Saint Laurent did – but which we couldn’t anticipate before the fact.

In six months, when the collection hits the boutiques, all the millennials rush to buy those T-shirts and chokers, the true Dior client still finds herself in love with the very clever new take on the Bar jacket, and Chiuri herself has had reasonable time to learn the ropes at a house as magnificent as this, it’s all but inevitable that the naysayers will be on the receiving end of negative commentary for not believing in a collection as sellable as this.

Now how’s that for feminism?

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