This afternoon at Dior's AW18 show, artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri looked back at France 50 years ago, in May 1968, when civil unrest erupted across the country and a new feminist movement gained momentum.
As strikes and protests took place across Paris and beyond this social revolution placed the influence and zeal of the youth generation at the forefront. For AW18, Maria Grazia Chiuri commemorated the 50-year anniversary, drawing on the spirit of those times as well as the wardrobes worn by the new age of protestors.
The facade of the show venue, the Musée Rodin, was papered with manifestos bearing feminist statements such as "I AM A Woman" and "Women's Rights Are Human Rights" and inside the show space countless magazine covers and historical protest posters from 1968 covered the walls of the interior.
The show notes began with a quote from legendary fashion journalist Diana Vreeland, who edited American Vogue from 1963-1971: “The sixties were about personalities. It was the first time when mannequins became personalities. It was a time of great goals, an inventive time… and these girls invented themselves.” Vreeland is credited with inventing the term 'youthquake' (crowned the word of the year in 2017) in 1965 and defining the uprising of young people in London in the '60s – a youth movement which still feels particularly pertinent in 2018.
Now, 50 years after the protests of 1968, Maria Grazia Chiuri wished to recreate that era when fashion's rules were being completely subverted. Dior regular, Ruth Bell opened the show in a black balaclava with a top emblazoned with the words "C'est non, non, non et non". There were patchworks aplenty, ponchos, tinted sunglasses and check tailoring. Denim was reworked and printed, kilts came in varying lengths and were paired with masculine jackets or coats, while dresses were worn over biker-inspired thigh boots and the beret from the AW17 Dior collection evolved into a peaked cap. Model Adesuwa Aighewi wore a knit bearing a huge peace sign while floral embroidery (flower power!) appeared on a number of dresses. Sheer gowns and vividly coloured mini skirts were worn with thick-soled boots, creating a casual silhouette of tough femininity.
As Isabelle Huppert, Bianca Jagger and Cara Delevingne watched from the front row, ardent activist Adwoa Aboah closed the show in a sheer floral dress. Steadfastly pushing her feminist message, which she has promoted since her Dior debut, Maria Grazia Chiuri's referential collection provided a modern wardrobe for today's fashion-conscious female protestor. Considering the "We Should All Be Feminists" T-shirt from Dior SS17 cost a hefty £490, you might need to save up first.