Pablo Starr is publisher of FWO and RNWY, and author of forthcoming RNWY: A Novel. Read about Pablo in The Huffington Post. (More info.)

Dior Paris Fashion Week Spring 2018

Revolution is, not surprisingly, again at the heart of Maria Grazia Chiuri’s latest collection for Dior. Not surprising because we are, after all, in a time of social upheaval unseen since the ’60s, although the changes are less about college campus uprisings than passion behind hashtags and furious keyboard clacks.

Say what you will about social media, its power as an engine of social change is indisputable, driving awareness of issues with hashtags from #YesAllWomen to #BlackLivesMatter, and making no mistake about what the population at large has to say about what is socially acceptable in a modern, pluralistic society. (Or, at least, the one we are all trying to create.)

But like any worthwhile artist, Chiuri isn’t content to rest on polemic. As King Ubu said in Alfred Jarry’s seminal work Ubu Roi, “We won’t have destroyed everything until we’ve destroyed the ruins, as well. And I can find no better way of doing so than by using them to create fine, harmonious new edifices.”

We won’t have destroyed everything until we’ve destroyed the ruins, as well.

Simply parsed, art can never simply complain; its job is to convert that unease into something beautiful, or terrifying, or simply thought provoking.

art can never simply complain

So it is with Chiuri’s Spring 2018 collection, which asks, among other things, “Why have there not been great women artists?” (Originally the title of a 1970s essay by Linda Nochlin.) An odd question to be sure, in a world that’s been home to Mary Cassatt, Georgia O’Keeffe, Berthe Morisot, Suzanne Valadon, Frida Kahlo, and “outsider artist” Niki de Saint Phalle, who formed an inspiration for the collection.

 
Dior Spring 2018

 

Perhaps the question rests on what you consider “great.” Or — perhaps more importantly — who is deciding the answer.

Perhaps the question rests on who is deciding the answer

Unfair skewings are usually traceable to one group trying to dominate another, rather than allowing a free range of ideas, and offering a proper division of reward based on merit. This is why the issue of women’s rights has a larger echo, in the issue of human rights. A better, fairer world is — simply put — a better world for everyone to live in.

In the case of Chiuri’s latest Paris Fashion Week collection, although it may be less magical than her fencing-inspired debut of last year, it is imminently more wearable. It makes skillful use of the language of revolt, from military berets to sexy ’60s boots.

It makes skillful use of the language of revolt

Meanwhile, it incorporates late-’50s touches that almost recall Coco Chanel (no doubt also in reference to [erstwhile Dior creative head] Marc Bohan), with other looks making use of modern textiles and exquisite layering.

Or favorite elements, as always, are the tarot touches, that lend a necessary element of cipher: like a mystical portal opening to a better, fairer world to come.

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With love,

FWO

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