Dior’s new flamenco-inspired romantic ruffled dresses will transport you to Seville

It’s strange to say the least: before arriving at Dior as creative director (as, you know, the first woman to lead the company in 70 years) in 2016, Maria Grazia Chiuri had never developed a cruise collection. Since then, she has created six, in her own way. Because where others see (an umpteenth) business opportunity, the Roman designer has made the line a socio-cultural research laboratory focused in particular on the various craft traditions that she discovers in the places she travels.

There is little left to say about the last leg of her trip on June 16, 2022 in Seville, given all the Instagram posts showing the designer visiting the Basílica de Santa María, leaked images of the monumental staging in Spain Square, spotting the local artisans involved in the collection (saddler Javier Menacho, jeweler Pedro Ramos, gold embroiderer Jesús Rosado, queen of Manila shawls María José Sánchez Espinar, hatters Fernández y Roche), songs and phenomenal dances (Blanca Li, Belén López, El Yiyo, Carmen Amaya in spirit), and a frenzy of front row chatter just before the show started. After all that excitement, Chiuri sat down with vogue Spain from Paris to explain a creative process that provides insight into the designer like never before.

Alongside artisan Javier Menacho, model Grace Valentine wears a silk twill blouse, embroidered tulle skirt, handmade Cordoba wool bonnet, leather belt and leather shoes. Everything from the Dior Cruise 2023 collection

Photographed by: David Gómez-Maestre. Stylist: Beatriz Machado. Make-up & hair: Egon Crivillers / Kasteel Artist Management for Le Pure, Sisley and Oribe Hair Care. Assistant photographer: Miguel Benajes. Stylist assistant: Julieta Sartor. Production: Another agency. Thanks to Artesanía En Piel Javier Menacho and Yeguada Pepe Torres.

The cruise collections have long since lost their original meaning to become a formula for maintaining a constant flow of new arrivals in the shops between the main ready-to-wear lines. Why did you decide to add significant cultural value to what is only a business strategy?

Maria Grazia Chiuri: The Cruise collections are an invitation to travel. That’s the idea. The question is how to interpret it. In my case, traveling is like knowing: knowing a territory, the people who live there and the artists who express their creativity. The beauty of travel lies in meeting people. I like to define these collections as community projects, involving various creators, which show us how different we are. Fashion can make us see other realities, especially through craftsmanship. We tend to only see what’s happening in Paris, Milan, New York and London Fashion Weeks, but the fact is that fashion shows up everywhere. Making it visible promotes exchange and enrichment. And enrichment is always good.

Is it a designer’s duty to demonstrate social and cultural responsibility in their work?

CMG: I firmly believe that. I understand that Dior is a global brand, which means it carries a huge responsibility. Moreover, we are a haute couture house, which allows us to support the sustainability of small crafts. I come from Italy, which is a country where fashion is experienced in a completely different way than in France, where it is part of the cultural system, even at the academic level. The Italians don’t have the same sensitivity, perhaps because their mindset is more professional. The problem is that if you are not aware of your socio-cultural value, you risk losing certain traditions, this know-how that comes from families, which is synonymous with belonging. Sometimes we struggle to recognize simply because these are things you see every day, things you take for granted. Until someone comes from outside, makes you perceive your reality, and you understand how exceptional it is.