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31 Mar

Dior Displays Art of India in Mumbai Show

MUMBAI, India — It was clear that Maria Grazia Chiuri, Christian Dior’s artistic director of girls’s collections, has kicked off a latest dialogue with the brand’s historic pre-fall 2023 show on the Gateway of India on Thursday night.

This dialogue resonated immediately in Mumbai with the familiarity of what was shown on the runway, by way of color, technique, styles and silhouettes, all of which showed Chiuri’s affection and appreciation for India.

This also was apparent within the collaboration between Dior and Karishma Swali, who directs the Chanakya ateliers and the Chanakya School of Craft in MumbaI, which delivered to life Chiuri’s love for embroidery and the craft of India.

RELATED: Mumbai Able to Embroider Itself Into Historic Moment With Christian Dior

The show — massive in featuring 99 styles — was unique in that lots of the styles were created in collaboration regarding the alternative of color palette, motifs, mirror work, sequins and crafts.

The models also had been chosen rigorously, with 23 Indian models, 33 Indian models with international backgrounds and 43 international ones.

The alternative of India for the show was the most recent in Dior’s string of major undertakings, from the takeover of the facade of Harrods in London last holiday season to the boys’s pre-fall show that illuminated the Pyramids of Giza last December.

“The alternative of this destination is deeply linked to our shared history and passions,” said Delphine Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of Christian Dior Couture. “Our unwavering affinity with India, woven from the very beginnings of the home in 1947, and through the shows of Monsieur Dior’s various successors — from Marc Bohan to Maria Grazia Chiuri — has consistently been deployed in quite a few creative dialogues combining innovation and ancestral heritage.”

Dior Pre-Fall 2023

Giovanni Giovanni/WWD

That the dialogue opening up latest spaces was also apparent within the symbolic location: The Gateway of India, which overlooks the Arabian Sea, is one among town’s best-loved landmarks; the beautifully lit, iconic Taj Mahal hotel is across the road.

The symbolism of a latest doorway was creatively taken a step further with the 46-foot “Toran,” a site-specific artwork just under the Gateway itself that was realized via a collaboration between the Chanakya Ateliers and Chanakya School of Craft. Women in India have crafted torans for hundreds of years, decorating local fabric through the use of embroidery and patchwork as a approach to welcome guests into their homes.

Chiuri lit up as she spoke concerning the Toran.

“It has been a dream of mine to create a toran for the show installation since I saw the one hanging at Nehal’s home in Mumbai,” she said of Nehal Shah, who’s the director of Chanakya, and is Karishma’s brother. “The feminine artisans of the Chanakya School of Craft and the master artisans from the Chanakya Atelier handcrafted the toran as a communal activity, drawing on their very own design vocabulary and every selecting which symbols of excellent fortune to integrate into the piece. They’ve worked together over several months, required 35,000 hours of handwork to finish this piece and employed 25 craft techniques including phulkari, mirror work, french knotting, and kantha.

“Elephants, mandalas, lotus, the kamadhenu, tigers, and peacocks adorn the gorgeous Toran, welcoming guests and alluring them to find India’s wealthy cultural heritage,” she said.

While the craft and embroidery enriched the straightforward, relaxed silhouettes that Chiuri favored in the gathering, the Mumbai show gave town and the Indian market a recognition that has long been coming.

It is usually 60 years after Dior models traveled to Mumbai for the brand’s spring-summer 1962 couture show in collaboration with Air-India. It was sponsored by the Time and Talents Club, Femina and the Alliance Française in Mumbai in April 1962 when Dior was being designed by Marc Bohan.

While Chiuri took inspiration from those files, this show brought in several elements from her own life — the love for peplum, and the drape of the material across the body, knotting on the waist. Madras check and block printing made it to the runway, as did tigers, elephants and peacocks.

“We’ve got to acknowledge what’s high level quality,” Chiuri explained. “Couture just isn’t only what is finished in Milan or in Paris. In other countries you’ll find specific firms which can be couture level background, like Chanakya — they’re a couture brand.  We’ve got to acknowledge this, and alter.”

Dior Pre-Fall 2023

Dior Pre-Fall 2023

Giovanni Giovanni/WWD

Chiuri told WWD on Thursday that colours just like the rani pink — a shade of pink that’s particular to India, and popular — and jamuni (a shade of purple), in addition to silhouettes that carried a splash of color that she said were inspired from the festival of Holi, were a part of the palette that emerged from the collaboration with Karishma Swali. 

Among the many pieces that stood out was the mirror-studded opera jacket, taken to the subsequent level with its positive fabric, keeping it light despite the mirrors, and using jali work with small mirrors, embedded pearls, the more ceremonial zardozi embroidery, and aari work (aari is each the name of the hook-shaped needle and a kind of stitch created by looping the thread through stretched fabric using the hooked needle).

She also paid tribute to the past in other ways.

“Each collection I desired to make a very important reference, the love of the flower that Christian Dior and his sister Catherine Dior had, and this flower was made with different techniques. This season that is magnificent, because the varsity made a 3D flower. It’s magnificent, it’s a chunk of art, made with organza,” she said.

The placement for the show in Mumbai was opportune at a time when the posh market in India is growing fast. But Chiuri’s excitement was clearly focused simply on the art, its creation, and perpetuation.

Dior Pre-Fall 2023

Dior Pre-Fall 2023

Giovanni Giovanni/WWD

“Truthfully, for me, this show may be very personal, it’s not about markets,” she said. “Karishma and I met greater than 25 years ago and desired to explore and we’ve been doing that through the years, but really did that with this collection. Fashion sometimes is more targeting other elements, the form, the colour — less about textile, embroidery, pondering that just isn’t so central. But it could possibly be the driving force as well.”

Celebrities from internationally attended the show — Hollywood actors Yara Shahidi, Cara Delevingne, Freida Pinto, Maisie Williams, and Simone Ashley; Thai actors Mile Phakphum and Apo Nnattawin, and Bollywood stars including Sonam Ahuja Kapoor and Anushka Sharma together with her husband, well-known cricketeer Virat Kohli, in addition to sitarist Anushka Shankar.

“On this moment we celebrated an incredible partnership,” said Chiuri, “and likewise incredible work that we did together. It’s so necessary to have fun the culture, the creativity that’s on this country and the best way we are able to try to maneuver in the long run. That is our goal.”

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