Maria Grazia Chiuri named Dior's new creative director
PARIS, France – Dior on Friday, July 8 named Italian designer Maria Grazia Chiuri as its new creative director, making her the first ever woman to lead the iconic French fashion house.
The 52-year-old said the appointment was both a "great honor" and a "tremendous responsibility" to be the first woman in charge of a fashion house "so deeply rooted in the pure expression of femininity."
She will present her first show in Paris on September 30, the company said, following in the steps of legendary founder Christian Dior and such designers as Yves Saint Laurent, Gianfranco Ferre and John Galliano.
"The house of Dior is delighted to welcome her and to have a woman, for the first time in its history, as artistic director for the womenswear collections," the fashion house said in a statement.
Dior had been without a leader since the shock departure of the Belgian Raf Simons last October, which sparked soul-searching in the industry about the pressure creators were now under.
The "endless wealth" of Dior's heritage "continues to be a constant source of inspiration for fashion and I cannot wait to express my own vision," Chiuri said.
'Sheikh of chic'
She left the Italian label Valentino on Thursday, July 7, paving the way for her appointment.
Valentino will now be in the sole charge of Chiuri's longtime creative partner Pierpaolo Piccioli.
Together, Chiuri and Piccioli were credited with giving Valentino back its fizz, making it one of the most profitable designer brands in Europe.
They have quadrupled its turnover in 7 years, turning Valentino into a billion-euro brand, with business up a staggering 48% in 2015, and double-digit growth also predicted this year.
They presented their collection for Valentino on Wednesday, July 6 at its Paris haute couture show, which Vogue magazine hailed as an "unforgettable farewell".
Chiuri, whose mother was a dressmaker but whose parents strongly disapproved of her going into fashion, took over at Valentino with Piccioli when its colorful founder Valentino Garavani retired in 2008.
Valentino, the "Sheikh of Chic", had poached them from the rival Roman label Fendi nearly a decade earlier.
There the pair had pioneered its ground-breaking accessories range, with Chiuri credited with creating its distinctive studded handbags.
Chiuri is known for her love of exquisitely embroidered creations, with the silken applications on one of the gowns in Wednesday's Paris show taking 480 hours to attach.
Her fairytale floor-sweeping dresses and willowy frocks have won her an army of Hollywood fans including actresses Gwyneth Paltrow, Anne Hathaway and Keira Knightley.
Some, however, have questioned her love of mediaeval motifs and called her look "anti-sexy".
She claims not to have been a natural show-woman, recalling her first show in charge of Valentino as a "nightmare".
"I was so shy and I found it hard to even talk. The night before I was at home trying to learn English from books" so that she could talk to the media.
She has since developed formidable media savvy, roping actors Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson from the Zoolander films which parody the fashion industry onto the catwalk of her autumn-winter show in Paris last year. – Rappler.com
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