Maria Grazia Chiuri celebrates and highlights North African culture in her Resort 2020 collection, the first Dior show staged in Morocco. In a series of nuances collaborations, the show was about acclaiming culture and injecting artists’ perspectives into the iconic fashion house.
Marrakesh is built into Dior’s DNA, ever since Yves Saint Laurent, then the head of Christian Dior, visited in 1960 and designed a coat inspired by the city. But Maria Grazia Chiuri’s reason for holding her Resort 2020 show in the Moroccan city was more nuanced. She came to North Africa to celebrate and highlight luxury, globalism and culture. She read Racism Explained To My Daughter, by French-Moroccan author, Taha Ben Jelloun to explore the concept of the show. “Culture teaches us to live together, teaches us that we’re not alone in the world, that other people have different traditions and ways of living that are just as valid as our own,” Jelloun writes. The focus of the collection was the authentic African wax prints on cotton, all produced in the Ivory Coast, instead of using cheap, digital imitations. The reason? Chiuri wanted to make a global statement: that intricate and ancient craftsmanship, as seen in these African textiles, can embody luxury in an increasingly polarized world.
Held at the magical El Badi Palace, a historic palace dating back to the 16th century, the diverse cast of models wearing the 113 looks walked throughout the storied gardens as the sun set over the enchanted desert. The grounds were decorated with local hand-woven rugs, dozens of tealights and mesmerizing bonfires, creating a fairy-tale ambience for Dior’s debut in Morocco, while the guests sat on cushions covered with artisanal fabrics made by Sumano, an organization dedicated to preserving the knowhow of female weavers and potters in Morocco
THE GUEST LIST
The fashion world’s elite, all 800 of them flown over for the occasion, were joined by Jessica Alba, Karlie Kloss, Shailene Woodley, Lupita Nyong’o, Diana Ross and as the three stylish sisters from LA pop-rock band, Haim, Daniele, Alana and Este.
Each model’s necks, hands and wrists were adorned with Chiuri’s signature over-loading of costume jewelry in aged brass and twisted fabric, while the Book Tote shopper made an appearance, this time in Moroccan—inspired shades of midnight navy, as well as a metallic Lady Dior that echoed the sunset shimmering on the set’s water pools.
Uniwax was just one of five collaborations in this one collection. Chiuri also collaborated with Sumano, the Moroccan women’s textile and ceramics association for intricately woven tapestry-like pieces that produce the set cushions but also the fringed, opera coat of look one. Chiuri also asked British-Jamaican designer Grace Wales Bonner and US artist, Mickalene Thomas, to each design their own interpretation of Dior’s New Look for the collection; She teamed up with Monsieur Pathé’O, known for making Nelson Mandela’s shirts, and those head wraps? They were a collaboration between Stephen Jones and Ghanaian-British milliner, Martine Henry.
THE SOUND TRACK
Mixing old with new; traditional with contemporary much like the clothes, models walked through the hotel’s gardens to the tribal beats of Jajouka musicians along with British electronic band, The Orb.
“I think that if you move to another country to stage a show, you have to reflect about your codes, but also have a conversation with the whole continent”
Not soon after the last model had disappeared under a cloud of smoke, the legendary Diana Ross, wearing a sequined disco silver gown, took to the runway to initiate the crowd into the after party. Performing a playlist of her hits with the warn, gusty wind blowing through her signature curls, the surprise performance set the tone for the starlit after-party.
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