Finding a new ingenious way of talking about feelings and emotions that can connect us with a country and its culture is precisely what Maria Grazia Chiuri wished to accomplish in this Dior Fall 2023 collection, with a view to explaining the collaboration, work relations and friendship linking her for many years to India and Karishma Swali, who directs the Chanakya Atelier and the Chanakya School of Craft, in Mumbai. A place of exchange, study, and emancipation for many women, a laboratory to explore different types of savoir-faire that the Creative Director of Dior women’s lines has long celebrated, highlighting thus the visionary spirit of the founding-couturier.
The archives reveal Dior models created by Marc Bohan, the then Artistic Director, who traveled to India in April 1962, notably to Mumbai and Delhi, initiating conversation between France and India. For Marc Bohan, these presentations were significant events, heralding a new departure under his artistic direction: younger customers, and a more dynamic, contemporary approach to fashion and ready-to-wear.
Maria Grazia Chiuri has chosen color palettes and materials that crystalize key influences shared with Karishma Swali of Chanakya. The Creative Director of Dior women’s collections works on timeless clothing shapes that have stayed intact through time, allowing her to (re)design her favorite models. A color block sequence dedicated to silks – in shades of green, yellow, pink and purple –, in homage to Marc Bohan, comes in the form of sophisticated evening coats, sari-inspired straight skirts and traditional Indian cuts, as well as pants, boleros, jackets and tops: a veritable sartorial genealogy defined by different heritages and fashion cultures.
The embroidery – both protagonist and search engine, opens up all the possibilities of this craft – and becomes a tool for appraising, through the relationship between Dior and the Chanakya Ateliers and the Chanakya School of Craft, the multiple landscapes of India: this cartography mixes and spotlights the various techniques which, via the School’s work processes, become the realm of a woman’s legacy and an instrument at once of inventiveness and empowerment.
Geometric shapes frame in gold the silver sequins and strass; bewitching decorative motifs come forth in this kaleidoscope of colors on the silk of pajamas, blouses and dresses. The revisited toile de Jouy stands out in a vaporous palette of green, much like a camouflage magnified by elements of Indian landscapes populated by lucky-charm animals dear to this plural civilization.
The collection, presented in Mumbai*, becomes the expression of a shared territory thanks to this project, which fully celebrates the collaboration between Dior and Chanakya. This creative dialogue perpetuates precious illustrations of exceptional savoir-faire, confirming the unfailing bond between France and India.
*With the support of Directorate of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra and the Indian Authorities in Mumbai.