So, Maria Grazia Chiuri has got the Dior women’s creative director job. Is anyone surprised? Not really as it must be the worst kept secret of recent times in the fashion sector.
It may not mean much in terms of the wider fashion industry but it’s a significant move. As a 52-year-old woman, it’s the first time in its roughly 70-year history that Dior has had someone of the gender and age of its customers actually running it creatively. Chiuri is the first woman in the creative chief post and older than any previous Dior design chiefs were when they took up the post.
And yes, Dior is reaching out to younger shoppers but we all know that the people with the money aren’t 24-year-olds!
In talking about the appointment, Dior chief Sidney Toledano has been preparing Dior customers for a change of direction combined with a level of continuity. Now Dior is used to radical change. Just think about the furore after Dior himself died and Yves saint Laurent took a more left bank direction. Then there was John Galliano’s ultra-couture style followed by Raf Simons’ more understated approach.
What will Chiuri give us? She’s known for her love of soft femininity and embellishment but that’s perhaps less important than her experience in the accessories arena. Having spent a decade at Fendi, she and her former partner Pierpaolo Piccioli were originally brought into Valentino to shake up its accessories.
The bags, the belts and the boots make more money for Dior than the clothes do so that entry on her CV is crucial.
As with any chief designer, it will take time for her signature to work its way through to the collections. In some cases, that could mean over a year, although Dior said she will be in charge of the RTW SS17 collection to be shown in late September.
But just as important as the product she designs are the ad campaigns she’ll sign off, the store layouts she’ll oversee and well, the simple fact that she’s there.
As we’ve seen with Alessandro Michele at Gucci and John Galliano at Margiela, the appointment of a big name designer with a vision can drive sales upwards before a single product designed by that person hits the shelves.