The energy was palpable at the Gateway of India in anticipation of the historic launch of the Dior Pre-Fall 2023 collection. Held at the iconic monument, this global event marks a celebration of Indian heritage, craftsmanship, and the enduring friendship between Dior‘s artistic director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, and Karishma Swali, the visionary behind the Chanakya ateliers and the Chanakya School of Craft in Mumbai.
A dream come true
In an exclusive conversation with WWD, Chiuri revealed that the show in Mumbai has been a long-held dream. Over 850 guests are expected to attend the event, making it the first global launch of this scale in India for a calendar collection. The occasion also serves as an ode to the powerful bond between Chiuri and Swali, who first met over 25 years ago and found a deep connection through their shared passion for craftsmanship.
Swali credits Maria Grazia Chiuri as a “long-time mentor and dear friend“. Their partnership, which began when Chiuri worked at Fendi and later at Valentino, led to the integration of intricate hand-craftsmanship on accessories – a revolutionary move in the early ’90s. Swali’s Chanakya ateliers have since become renowned for their fine embroideries and creativity, while the Chanakya School of Craft has served as a means of preserving Indian tradition and empowering women.
Empowering women through craft
Inspired by Chiuri’s passion for empowering women, the Chanakya School of Craft dedicates its curriculum to women, providing them with the skills necessary for mastery in craftsmanship. Swali revealed that they have collectively trained over 1,000 women and are proud to see them become a part of the artisanal community that represents their culture. The school has also collaborated with artists like Judy Chicago and Eva Jospin, further demonstrating the link between art, craft, and interdisciplinary practice.
A testament to creativity
The Chanakya School of Craft, located in Mumbai’s Lower Parel, embodies an atmosphere of inspiration, openness, and creative energy. The school not only nurtures the art of craftsmanship but also encourages students to explore different genres and work with diverse artists, creating a paradigm shift in the way creativity works.
A showcase of Dior and Indian craftsmanship
The atelier has put together a showcase of more than 50 pieces, highlighting the fruitful collaboration between Chiuri and Swali. These creations demonstrate the exceptional embroideries and variety of crafts that have graced Dior runways and captivated the world. The atelier also features 11 schools of hand-craftsmanship, including crochet, zardozi embroidery, lace making, and appliqué.
Inspiration: Seamless and Borderless
Both Chiuri and Swali share a belief in the boundless nature of inspiration. The Dior Pre-Fall 2023 collection launch in Mumbai represents a celebration of Indian heritage, the power of friendship, and the beauty of collaboration. The event stands as a testament to the impact of aligning energies and creativity, creating a lasting legacy for future generations to cherish.