Christian Dior’s own fascination with Mexico can be traced back to his very first collection in 1947.
Christian Dior’s own fascination with Mexico can be traced back to his very first collection in 1947, which included a dress called simply, “Mexico”. More than 70 years on, Maria Grazia Chiuri brought her Dior vision to the Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso in Mexico City, alma mater of Frida Kahlo, whose work was key to the collection.
It was imbued with the spirit of Frida Kahlo
This most famous daughter of Mexico was key to both the collection and the setting. Maria Grazia Chiuri staged the resort show in Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, where Kahlo studied, and where she met her mentor and great love, the painter Diego Rivera. The collection’s androgynous touches reflected the trailblazing artist’s habit of blurring gender boundaries with her wardrobe (she was fond of wearing a three-piece suit). These were juxtaposed with dresses that riffed on traditional Tehuana huipiles, and one rose-pink look that evokes the dress Frida wears in her 1932 work, “Self Portrait on the Border Line Between Mexico and the United States”. Recurring motifs on the clothes—butterflies, parrots and Birds of Paradise—reflected the Mexican flora and fauna that preoccupied the artist. “I’ve always felt close to her and to what she did,” Chiuri said. “She was an artist who was the first to use her work to express her thinking about her body and her wardrobe; her clothes were part of her project. But also, she was very connected to the natural world, to mother earth, to the idea of metamorphosis.”
It showcased the work of local artisans
As always with her destination shows, Maria Grazia collaborated with local designers on the ground in Mexico in order to showcase the country’s traditional techniques, cultural practices and exceptional craftsmanship. Hilan Cruz Cruz, co-founder of the Yolcentle Textile Workshop, worked on embroideries that appeared on a series of shirts and dresses. Weaver Pedro Meza, the founder of Sna Jolobil, which employs artisans from Mexico’s Chiapas region, worked with his team to produce a gaban and sash belts with yarn embroideries by the Tzotzil communities of Zinacantan and San Juan Chamula. Remigo Mestas, one of the most influential figures in the promotion of artisanal textiles native to Oaxaca, oversaw the creation of four traditional huipiles that featured in the show. Narcy Areli Morales, the woman behind Oaxaca’s Rocinante brand, oversaw the embroidery—produced by an all-female Mixtec community—of Dior jackets, shirts and skirts with hand-stitched birds and plants.
It’s just the latest chapter in Dior’s long history with Mexico
Christian Dior’s own fascination with Mexico can be traced back to his very first collection in 1947, which included a dress called simply, “Mexico”. In 1950, Christian Dior signed an exclusive contract with Mexico City’s El Palacio de Hierro department store, which reproduced the couturier’s designs for its well-heeled customers. One of Dior’s earliest ambassadors was the ravishing Mexican actress, María Félix. Later on in the story of the house, Marc Bohan showed couture collections at the Camino Real hotel in Mexico City while he was artistic director, and John Galliano memorably paid homage to the country with his autumn/winter 2002 couture collection for Dior.
Dior’s celebrity friends came along for the ride
A clutch of María Félix’s modern-day successors made the trip to Mexico to see the resort collection unveiled. Among those posing before the spectacular floral butterfly at the venue? Alicia Keys, Naomi Watts, Emma Raducanu and Lena Mahtouf.
Art—and the weather—had a starring role
Maria Grazia tapped Chihuahua-born artist Elina Chauvet to create an installation specifically for the Cruise 2024 collection, who duly assembled a team of 16 female embroiderers to work on “A Corazón Abierto” [“Open Heart”], a series of 20 white Dior toiles stitched with words and symbols in red cotton threads. Unveiled as part of the show, it was a continuation of Chauvet’s “Confianza”, a white dress embroidered with words in red yarn, inspired by the story of the Italian performance artist Pippa Bacca, who was violently killed while attempting to hitchhike from Europe to the Middle East to spread a message of peace. There was another, unplanned element adding to the atmosphere in Mexico City: the rain. It didn’t deter the impressively stoic models, who glided along the runway apparently unfazed by the downpour.
This article was originally published on British Vogue.