Maria Grazia Chiuri, Christian Dior’s artistic director of women’s collections, showcased a historic Pre-Fall 2023 show at the Gateway of India in Mumbai, initiating a new dialogue with India’s rich heritage and craftsmanship. The show’s collaboration with Karishma Swali of Chanakya ateliers and the Chanakya School of Craft highlighted the affection and appreciation Chiuri holds for Indian embroidery and craft techniques.
Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Pre-Fall 2023 show presented 99 unique styles, many of which were created in collaboration with the Chanakya ateliers, emphasizing the selection of color palettes, motifs, mirror work, sequins, and crafts. A diverse group of models, including 23 Indian, 33 Indian with international backgrounds, and 43 international models, took to the runway to showcase the stunning creations.
Delphine Arnault, chairman and CEO of Christian Dior Couture, expressed the strong connection between Dior and India, stating, “Our unwavering affinity with India, woven from the very beginnings of the house in 1947, and through the shows of Monsieur Dior’s various successors – from Marc Bohan to Maria Grazia Chiuri – has constantly been deployed in numerous creative dialogues combining innovation and ancestral heritage”.
A 46-foot “Toran“, a site-specific artwork beneath the Gateway of India, was the result of a collaboration between the Chanakya Ateliers and Chanakya School of Craft. Chiuri shared her excitement about the Toran, which required 35,000 hours of handwork and employed 25 craft techniques, such as phulkari, mirror work, french knotting, and kantha.
The show paid tribute to India’s rich cultural heritage, featuring traditional elements like madras checks, block printing, and motifs of tigers, elephants, and peacocks. Chiuri also took inspiration from Indian festivals, incorporating colors like rani pink and jamuni into the collection.
The Pre-Fall 2023 show not only showcased Dior’s admiration for India’s craftsmanship but also acknowledged the growing luxury market in the country. However, Chiuri emphasized that her focus was on the art and its creation, rather than the market potential. She said, “Fashion sometimes is more concentrated on other elements, the shape, the color – less about textile, embroidery, thinking that is not so central. But it can be the driving force as well“.
The event drew celebrities from around the globe, including Yara Shahidi, Cara Delevingne, Freida Pinto, Maisie Williams, Simone Ashley, Mile Phakphum, Apo Nnattawin, Sonam Ahuja Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Virat Kohli and Anoushka Shankar. In conclusion, Chiuri shared her vision for the future, stating, “It is so important to celebrate the culture, the creativity that is in this country and the way we can try to move in the future. This is our goal”.