It is no secret that Christian Dior has had more political, rebellious, artistic, and literary runway shows since the entrance of the first female creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri. The fierce appearance with the eye-opening messages have brought a stance towards women’s rights, climate change, beauty standards and any other issues as they relate to a stronger and ethical woman wearing Dior. The messages models have worn on t-shirts such as “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” taken from an essay the famous art historian Linda Nochlin at the Dior Ready-to-Wear Spring 2018 and “Sisterhood Global,” at the Fall 2019, Ready-to-Wear is taken from the American second-wave feminist, book Sisterhood is Global touches the surface of the entire stage Dior sets up. As much as the clothes signal messages of protest and solidarity, the environment where models walk can’t be ignored to be read. As much as Dior wants to present beauty through their clothing, Dior uses it’s runway as a space to be current, strong-voiced, solidarity, and educational in 2020. Dior wants to be the fashion brand where women who wear the brand are the living representations of the values the fashion house expresses.
The most famous living feminist artist, Judy Chicago collaborated with the fashion house during the Dior Spring 2020 Haute Couture Collection. In art, sewing, embroidery, and textile making is generally a feminine practice and has always been the lowest category in the canon of art. Textiles is where women excel at. It’s what women design and perfect for centuries, now women craft at ateliers, where fashion takes center in a woman’s life through her style choices in any stage of her life. This suits Judy Chicago since her feminist artwork such as The Dinner Party (1974-79) is primarily made of textiles. At the runway show coined The Feminist Divine, Judy Chicago designed 21 handmade banners which read: “What if Women Ruled the World?”, “Would Both Women and Men Be Gentle?”, “Would God be Female?”, ”Would Buildings Resemble Wombs?” , “Would There Be Violence?” , “Would Men and Women be Equal?” These are clever and important questions to ask as people struggle with understanding the Feminism movement. If women became the center of the universe, would women run the world differently and would female leadership become an influence in the art, architecture, religion and take men to be the equivalent regardless of female centrism. These are the questions that look beyond the surface of what feminism searches for beyond equal pay, representation and etc that are well aligned between Judy Chicago and Dior’s values.
The bright LED lights at the Christian Dior Fall 2020 show read “Consent,” “Women Raise the Upraising,” “Patriarchy = Climate Emergency,” ”Patriarchy Kills Love,” “Women are the Moon that Moves the Tides,” “Feminine Beauty is a Ready-Made,” and “Women’s Love is Unpaid Labor” were all designed by the feminist, conceptual artist Claire Fontaine. This is a dialogue Dior, Fontaine, and Chiuri are having with the audience about the patriarchy, how men control the definition of love, women’s bodies, and consent. This is a direct display of solidarity with the #MeToo movement that sparked Hollywood in 2016. The reality has been long been displayed where women are constantly under the male gaze, a dangerous viewpoint of how a heterosexual man objectifies fetishizes, and sexualizes women. The Dior runway flashes the lights on the messages for the world to recognize the value of women that are constantly diminished. The models walked on a floor made of newspapers, inspired by a photograph Robert Capa took in 1949, Dior describes it as “visual noise” “for Claire Fontaine symbolizes the idea of bringing the exterior into the exhibition space, at the crossroads of convictions and uprisings, aesthetics and ethics.” The newspapers stand for the press coverage on the collection, how the press controls the voices and messages of an uprising, and how we have the power to change what the press will cover next.
During the COVID-19 crisis, no one could physically attend the Christian Dior Resort 2021 fashion show in Rome, Italy for Dior’s resort wear. But through the virtual viewing of the runway show, the details of the messages glow through the colorful light display reading: “Remember The First Time You Saw Her Name,” “Wish Is Revolutionary Because It Seeks What Cannot Be Seen,” and “We Rise By Lifting Others.” Although, it is unclear about whom Dior is addressing with these messages, meaning they are read differently and mean something different for anyone who reads these messages. It stands for our current world stage with the epidemic and how many need to be lifted up and not forgotten. COVID-19 in relation to Italy in how many lives were lost and the downsizing of the fashion industry there. It is a stance of representation with the Black Lives Matter Movement to remember Breonna Taylor and the other women who lost their lives to police violence. These messages are representational callings for change in many institutions, how we need each other to bring the change in a variety of issues from global health, equal rights in the workplace, racial equality, and many more that our world needs to focus on.