The final leg of fashion month has begun, and with it comes the Christian Dior Fall 2018 ready-to-wear collection, presented in Paris on Tuesday.
In what was perhaps the most tepid fashion protest to date, Dior’s artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri presented a 62-piece continuation of what has been standard practice at a Dior show for the past several seasons: heavy feminist messaging. At Musée Rodin in Paris on Feb. 27, the Dior runway set included a collage of fashion magazines from the late 1960s and a conspicuously arrayed 1995 quote from former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton: “Women’s rights are human rights.”
Aside from a few pantsuits, Hillary Clinton’s influence was missing elsewhere from the Dior show, and luckily Chiuri spared us from any more slogan T-shirts that would include those quotes. Instead, the clothing relied on emblems of the ’60s “youthquake,” a term Vogue editor Diana Vreeland coined in 1965 to embody the upending of the old-school stuffy fashion vanguard in favor of youth culture.
“When a group of young women in miniskirts held a protest on 12 September 1966 in front of the Dior boutique with placards bearing the maxim ‘mini skirts forever,’ as shown in a photo from the time, Marc Bohan, then artistic director of Dior, came up with the Miss Dior collection and interpreted the idea of femininity as shaped by Christian Dior,” read the show notes. That translated on the runway into knit sweaters with peace signs, plaid pantsuits, miniskirts, metallic coats and trousers, and plenty of patchwork.
Interestingly, Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year last year was “youthquake,” a telltale sign that Chiuri may be late to the game with this collection. (Evidence comes in the form of the ubiquity of the baker boy/newsboy/fisherman’s caps in street style over the past two-plus years.) Certainly, a staged runway “protest” isn’t new either. (Most visibly, Chanel did it for its Spring 2015 collection.) The Dior Fall 2018 show lacked Anna Sui’s charismatic ’60s flair and Vivienne Westwood’s authentic commitment to political disruption.
It is serendipitous, however, that Chiuri would evoke “youthquake” into her collection and reference the 1968 Paris student protests ahead of the events’ 50-year anniversary in May. At the time, French students, frustrated by an outdated university system and disenfranchised by the lack of job prospects, protested at Sorbonne University in Paris, marking a season of political upheaval that, despite overturned cars, tear gas, and Molotov cocktails, ultimately became “the revolution that never was.”
The youth-centric Dior collection coincides with today’s mobilization efforts of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students from Parkland, Fla., who have joined with Women’s March leaders to organize an upcoming march against gun violence after a Feb. 14 mass shooting that killed 17 people.
Hopefully, the Parkland student’s efforts will be more impactful than those of the of the 1968 French student riots — and of this Dior collection as well.
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