PARIS – At the end of the Dior fashion show in Paris in September, a woman rose from the crowd and walked towards the airport with a yellow banner painted with the words “We are all victims.”
Maria Grazia Chiuri, creative director of women’s collections at Dior, often uses her platform as a platform for feminist slogans, such as “Patriarchy = Repression.” Is this a way of questioning the meaning of the fashion system during the coronavirus pandemic?
“You can’t tell if it’s part of the show or not,” said Sidney Toledano, president and CEO of LVMH Fashion Group, later. The protester turned out to be a member of the climate action group Extinction Rebellion, which previously disrupted London Fashion Week in a series of demonstrations.
He describes the moment when fashion and activism have intertwined in a year marked by a widespread uprising, from global lockdowns designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, to the Black Lives Matter protests and a separate US presidential election.
“Fashion as activism is stronger than ever in 2020,” the search engine Lyst said in the “Year in Fashion 2020” report. “From shopping to exclusive businesses to Michelle Obama’s famous‘ Vote ’necklace, the clothing and accessories have expressed their understanding of social and political issues.
Benjamin Simmenauer, a professor at the Institut Français de la Mode, said the Dior incident could be seen as a moment in the watershed.” This is not the first time that a protester interrupts a fashion show, but it is the first time that people are not sure what they have seen,” he said.
He noted that until recently, expensive brands generally avoided engaging in political and social issues.”When they take a position, it foams,” he said. “If the show itself can withstand a militant protest, how can it justify excluding a real activist from the event?”
Speaking two months later, Chiuri seems resentful against the intruder. “I would like to meet you because I am interested in your views. I think this is true: what she wrote was not very strange,” she said, adding that the protesters disappeared after the show.
“I think the whole system understands that it must participate, be more careful in what you do, in what you do, how much you consume,” Chiuri said. The difficulty, she added, is how to move towards a more sustainable production speed while maintaining thousands of jobs throughout the fashion supply chain. “I am not a hypocrite. We are in a capitalist world and it is not easy to change,” she reflects.
When Chiuri joined Dior in 2016, she was the first woman to receive the design in the history of the French fashion house. From her first show, she clarified her values by sending a T-shirt with the message “We should all be feminists.” Since then, she has constantly promoted creative women and brand sales have increased.
“For me, feminism is very important. I speak in a particular way from the perspective of women, because it is something closer to my personal story,” said Chiuri.
The same can be said for Virgil Abloh, who in 2018 acted as the male artistic director at Louis Vuitton, becoming one of the highest-profile black designers in the industry. The Off-White founder used the platform to promote a message of diversity and togetherness, beginning with his first show at Vuitton, staged on a rainbow-colored catwalk.
“The various ethnicities that are welcomed within and allow the opportunity to shine within fashion or within the creative industries is my story,” he said. “That’s where I come from. It is and continues to be the uphill battle that I am facing, and I want the younger generation to have an easier way to do the same kind of work as me.”
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the flagship company of Dior and Louis Vuitton, is among the leading luxury groups that have given their creative directors the freedom to speak out on topics such as racism and misogyny. Abloh said LVMH president and CEO Bernard Arnault and his executive teams deserve credit for thinking ahead.
“I really take off my hat on them for being brave enough to make that decision at a very different time in 2020. It shows their aspirations and shows how they think in 2017, what is being talked about. I did that. Not because of today’s mood, “he said.” From the first show, they gave me free. ”
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