“It doesn’t matter where we start from1…” Carla Lonzi, Autoritratto, 1969.
Autobiography, self-portrait, story. Associating places, images, words. Freely, with fresh eyes. For this fall-winter 2020-2021 ready-to-wear collection, Maria Grazia Chiuri maps out an atlas of emotions through the prism of her teenage diary. Two photos of her mother transport her back to this time in her life, a laboratory brimming with possibilities of what the future may hold.
Images reappear, including photos of actresses who served as inspiration for clients of her mother’s couture atelier, as well as for the Creative Director herself, who used fashion as a way of asserting herself, of rebelling, and communicating to others how she wanted to be perceived. Next came other photos from the past that she revisits with her vision today: Germana Marucelli’s studio in Milan, designed by artist Paolo Scheggi; that of Mila Schön by Ugo Mulas and, lastly, portraits of Carla Accardi.
This arborescent diagram inspired Maria Grazia Chiuri’s very own The Little Dictionary of Fashion2, with jeans, as well as the checks that Monsieur Dior was so fond of. “I love checks. They can be fancy and simple; elegant and easy; young and always right3.” Checks resurface on an ensemble designed by Marc Bohan: it’s this outfit, with the motif placed on the bias, that inspired the structure of the collection’s skirts. There’s also the pea coat and pleated skirts.
Little collars with ties. Black and white. All this is at the heart of a perfectly balanced collection. A polka dot scarf found in the Dior archives serves as the starting point for a series of dresses in various lengths that explore the print’s infinite possibilities. As Christian Dior writes in his The Little Dictionary of Fashion: “I would say the same about dots as about checks. They are lovely, elegant, easy and always in fashion.3” Not to mention fringes, which provide mobile ornamentation on long skirts. Knitwear spans all the wardrobe essentials: sweaters, jackets, skirts, and pants.
The show venue was designed in collaboration with the Claire Fontaine collective, which has exhibited at the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rome. The museum is also home to the archives of Carla Lonzi, a charismatic figure who was an art critic before committing to the feminist cause. “Io Dico Io – I Say I 4”, the title of an upcoming exhibition dedicated to Italian women artists, supported by Dior, becomes the starting point for a series of manifesto-like phrases.
Evoking these words in English – “I say I” – right at the show’s entrance brings to life a story of powerful self-assertion. They are the symbol of a joyful singularity, as well as a creative and collective way of approaching the multiple aspects of feminine subjectivity — and the infinite project that femininity represents.
1 In Italian: “Cominciamo da un punto qualunque…” 2 In reference to the dictionary published by the founding couturier in 1954. 3 Excerpt from The Little Dictionary of Fashion by Christian Dior. 4 “Io Dico Io – I Say I” is the title of an exhibition which will be held at Rome’s National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art from 23 March to 21 June 2020. Produced with Dior’s support, it is loosely based on the feminist manifesto of Carla Lonzi, which inspired this collection and the pieces designed for the show.