For Dior artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri, the lockdown was a moment of reflection on everything from sustainability to the renewed importance of craftsmanship (which she showcased in the cruise-focused show home crafts in July). As part of ELLE’s review of the future of fashion, the designer shared her thoughts on the “shameful waste” that she thinks the industry must leave behind in this new era.
The conversation around pre-COVID fashion was aimed at making the industry more sustainable, both environmentally and in terms of pace. Do you think the current crisis has accelerated these conversations? Do you think this will ultimately push the industry in a more sustainable direction?
I think so and I hope so. This health crisis has forced us to face several limits of the production model in which we work – limits related to environmental but also human sustainability. We all found ourselves with a lot of free time to reflect, which was sorely lacking in our lives before. It is time to reflect on what we do, how we do it and the price we pay for our working arrangements, both in material terms but also in terms of creativity. Fortunately, this quickly led to an increased awareness of the critical issues we face.
How do the current limits force everyone to be more creative? Have you rethought your way of doing things?
I’m not sure we can speak of “more” or “less” creativity. Creativity is not an increasing or decreasing quantity; it is a strange animal. It develops in such a way as to escape all logic. As with instinct, creativity is surely influenced by everything that is happening around us. Recent changes in our routines have had an effect on the way we approach our projects, but also on the issues that attract us the most, the issues that prompt us to produce something that is culturally relevant and that meets current needs. This is reflected in the way we work as a team, how the debates and the exchange of ideas take place, which naturally leads to the translation of these ideas into material objects. It’s a new normal, but it’s great to be back together looking for solutions to work together, with so much enthusiasm and goodwill.
This period gave everyone time to reflect – what have you learned over the past few months that will influence your work (or who you think will influence the industry) in the future? Do you think there will be a renewed appreciation for craftsmanship / quality?
It is difficult to make predictions; we don’t have enough hindsight yet to assess things critically. What we can do is rise to the occasion, meet the challenge of today, and work according to guidelines designed to protect our health. I really hope that the attention to quality and the return to enjoyment of detail, craftsmanship, beauty of items in general – aesthetic and in production – will be the long-term glimmer of hope for months of loneliness and reflection that we have just experienced.
How do you think the fashion shows and fashion weeks could change? Are there other traditional ways of doing business that you think will change? What do you think will take their place? How can fashion transform itself and become a stronger industry?
There’s no question that a lot will change, especially the way people and things move, and how often we are asked to show our work. At least for now. But slowing down now doesn’t mean denying the value of fashion, or missing out on anything. This goes for clothing and objects in general, but also for their corollaries like fashion shows, presentations, editorials and exhibitions that go hand in hand with fashion. A more conscious relationship over time and a more direct connection to what people want and need: this is what the fashion industry will need to keep its relevance in society and consolidate its role as a stone touch of contemporary culture.
What do you want to take away from these times and what do you want to leave behind in the pre-COVID era?
A shameful waste. Political demands that become a simple act of public relations. Abstain and close our eyes to the problems we face today.
There has been a lot of talk about what people wear at home, but what overall changes have you noticed in the way people dress? Do you foresee a time when the pendulum will change and people will be happy to dress again?
History has taught us that people’s tastes fluctuate over time, depending on what is going on in the world. And these fluctuations occur more as “reactions” to the status quo than as a natural progression. That’s why, yes, I’m waiting – and hopefully even a little bit – that we’ll quickly return to expressing joy and excitement through bold and thoughtful fashion choices. A celebration of the joy of seeing, finally, the complete image of oneself.
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