Dior Celebrated Indian Artisans and Craftsmanship With a Fashion Show in Mumbai
Cara Delevingne and Simone Ashley were in attendance for the Fall 2023 collection at the Gateway of India.
Dior made history, cementing itself as the very first fashion house to host a seasonal fashion show in India. For the first time ever, the storied French label showcased its Fall 2023 collection at the historic Gateway of India, showcasing the embroidery and craftsmanship associated with Indian artisans on the runway. CNN notes that back in 1967, Pierre Cardin hosted a show in India and that Yves Saint Laurent followed suit in 1989 (Valentino followed suit in 2004), but Dior's on-calendar show wasn't just a special one-off exhibition, it offered a chance for creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri to "spotlight the collaboration and friendship" between herself and Karishma Swali, the artistic director of the Chanakya ateliers and the non-profit Chanakya School of Craft in Mumbai.
The show spanned a staggering 99 looks and many of the ensembles were created in collaboration between Dior and Chanakya. Together, Grazia and the team at Chanakya worked to mesh Dior's savoir-faire with the colors, motifs, mirror work, sequins, and handwork celebrated at the school. The runway included 23 Indian models, 33 Indian models with international backgrounds, and 43 international models. Cara Delevingne, Simone Ashley, and Naomi Ackie were all in attendance.
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“The choice of this destination is deeply linked to our shared history and passions,” Delphine Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of Christian Dior Couture, told WWD. “Our unwavering affinity with India, woven from the very beginnings of the house in 1947, and through the shows of Monsieur Dior’s various successors — from Marc Bohan to Maria Grazia Chiuri — has constantly been deployed in numerous creative dialogues combining innovation and ancestral heritage.”
Even the setting was intentional. The Gateway of India is one of the country's most recognizable landmarks and sits across from the Arabian Sea. Other notable aspects of the collection included Chiuri's use of rani pink — a shade particular to India — and jamuni, a specific purple.
“We have to recognize what is high-level quality,” Chiuri said of showcasing the artistry of India. “Couture is not only what is done in Milan or in Paris. In other countries you can find specific companies that are couture level background, like Chanakya — they are a couture brand. We have to recognize this, and change.”
"It is very important to celebrate the creativity of the artisans and the culture of India, while giving them a contemporary flavor," Chiuri said at a press conference. "This collection is a result of all the efforts we have put into bringing this language to life."
Chiuri mentioned that she continued to add nods to Christian Dior himself to her work, blending the heritage of the house with the history of Indian craft to create something she sees as modern and new. Traditional Indian techniques included tie and dye and zari.
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“Each collection I wanted to make an important reference, the love of the flower that Christian Dior and his sister Catherine Dior had, and this flower was made with different techniques. This season this is magnificent, because the school made a 3-D flower. It is magnificent, it is a piece of art, made with organza,” she said.
“In this moment we celebrated a great partnership,” Chiuri finished. “And also incredible work that we did together. It is so important to celebrate the culture, the creativity that is in this country and the way we can try to move in the future. This is our goal.”
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