Maria Grazia Chiuri was aware that a celebration of African traditional print could cause rumblings among social media keyboard warriors. She knew that taking inspiration from the textures and fabric workings of iconic cultural styles could be smeared with taunts of derivative style and even exploitative borrowings. But Chiuri isn’t here for the “inspo” and her extensive research and partnerships for the Dior Cruise 2020 collection proves so. The Marrakech-hosted show last night was by far and wide a collaboration. One that Chiuri instigated to ensure a fear of being interpreted as exploitative rather celebratory doesn’t stifle cultural cohesion altogether.
Christian Dior, himself, had a deep love for Morocco and the fashion house has retained a close connection to the artisans and boutiques of Casablanca and Marrakech ever since. Chiuri loaned this love for her new collection, yet delved deeper into an igniting of the inner workings of true African fashion. Working with everyone from French anthropologist Anne Grosfilley who specialises in African textiles, to Uniwax, a studio on the Ivory Coast that produces incredible African wax fabrics, to designer Pathé Ouedraogo, best known as the designer of Nelson Mandela’s famous bold-print shirts, the conversation was broad and open. Chiuri told Vogue magazine: “I want to say that fashion loves other cultures and can work with other cultures. The idea of closing off to avoid arguments cannot help anybody.”
This round table of immense global creativity resulted in a collection that Chiuri is clearly enamoured by. And so she should be. The breathtaking setting of the grounds of El Badi Palace romanticised proceedings at a glance. A wild, glowing fire pit roared in the centre, lighting an impressive and foreboding henna-printed carpet runway. From there, models began their sojourn in a plethora of inspired pattern. African takes on Dior’s traditional Toile du Jour and tarot cards prints washed upon incarnations of the house’s long loved New Look silhouette and Bar jackets, while layers of embroidered outerwear draped graphically over wax-printed pieces that in some instances formed a haute medieval nuance.
The presentation was attended by Jessica Alba, Karlie Kloss, Jeanne Damas and Lupita Nyong’o among others, all undoubtably inspired by a collection that hosted breezy gowns, caftan-cut day wear and even camo-print utility pieces that proved to be not only a superb ode to its African-European tango but also supremely wearable.
We expect to see this collection birthed into the realms of the season’s most-worn, and we hope the wearers continue to note the cultural sensitivity from which it is steeped.