Dior’s “We Should All Be Feminists” t-shirts and chic undergarments have saturated the world of fashion, sported by “It” girls and style icons alike. One lesser known aspect is that the person behind the designs is just as fascinating as the designs themselves.
Maria Grazia Chiuri is Dior’s first-ever female Artistic Director and succeeded Raf Simons who left Dior after almost four years. Prior to Dior, she spent 17 years working at Valentino. Chiuri was first hired as Valentino’s Accessory Designer and worked on updating their eyewear and handbag collections. In 2003, Chiuri was chosen to work on Red Valentino and then took over the entire Accessories department.
During eight of those years, she worked with collaborator Pierpaolo Piccioli and together the remarkable duo redefined Valentino. In 2015, Valentino reached $1 billion in revenue which was largely due to Chiuri and Piccioli’s hard work and talent. Prior to Valentino, Chiuri’s first major stint in fashion was serving as Fendi’s Accessories Designer in Italy from 1989-1999.
Experience and opportunity are not something that Chiuri lacks and she brought all of her creativity, passion, and vision to Dior. She has made Dior more appealing to younger women, as well as carried the brand to the forefront of social issues and tensions. She took a strong stance on the disputes surrounding feminism by creating her $700 “We Should All Be Feminists” t-shirts which sold out immediately and still remain almost impossible to purchase.
The shirts drew inspiration from Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2014 essay and TED talk. Much of the proceeds from the sales were donated to various charities such as the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Rihanna’s non-profit, the Clara Lionel Foundation.
Chiuri also turned lingerie and undergarments into luxury evening wear with thick banded high-waisted underwear and demi cup lace bras. Dior redefined femininity and elegance, creating pieces that embrace women’s beauty and style.
In a July 2017 interview with Vogue, Chiuri commented on her success and future career plans saying, “Honestly, I am doing more than I ever imagined doing in my life! When I started to work and study fashion at 20-years-old, I never even thought I would have a job! To stop here would be enough.”
She could rightfully and understandably wrap up her career, having accomplished more than most people ever dream of. However, her unwavering work ethic and extraordinary vision imply that she’s nowhere near finished.