Presented in Marrakesh, the 2020 Cruise show by Maria Grazia Chiuri pays fervent homage to the richness of traditional Moroccan cultures as well as to Dior’s heritage and savoir-faire. For Christian Dior, incorporating Morocco into his designs is a poetic, open and free geography that began with a chromatic homage. The pureness of white, that “usual colour of light” as Isaac Newton put it – to lessen the sun’s impact – predominates in the Maroc ensemble, a dress and coat in white tulle embroidered in silver, from 1951. The year was not insignificant. It signalled the birth of a collaboration between the Maison Joste in Casablanca and Christian Dior. A unique experiment that would see styles sporting, until the 1970s, the dual label “Christian Dior – Joste – Exclusivité au Maroc” because they were made in Casablanca, after Christian Dior patterns designed in Paris.
Casablanca was also the name given to a day dress from 1954 on which the whiteness of the Surah silk contrasted with a constellation of small black squares. Perhaps it was worn by Lucky, Dior’s star fit model, during one of the many fashion shows in which she represented the House in Morocco? For several years, in fact, Lucky, “the ambassadress of elegance”, according to Christian Dior’s expression, would return wearing the House’s collections and thus contribute to this shared foundation, this steadfast bond between Dior and Morocco. This affinity would continue in 2004, at the Marrakesh International Film Festival, where several looks were unveiled at the prestigious Mamounia palace hotel.
In successive collections, the artistic directors who succeeded Christian Dior continued to recount this inspiring friendship, each in his or her own way: Gianfranco Ferré, with his ivory silk pantsuit called Rendez-vous à Casablanca, and John Galliano, through tulle bodysuits embroidered like henna tattoos. And, of course, we know the inexhaustible source of inspiration that North Africa, and Morocco in particular, would provide for Yves Saint Laurent, who became Christian Dior’s assistant in June 1955. The young couturier, who hailed from Oran, Algeria, in 1960 designed for Dior a look called Marrakech, a coat in ivory wool. A prescient creation, exceptionally exhibited for this 2020 Cruise collection alongside other designs by Yves Saint Laurent for Dior.
In presenting her collection in Marrakesh and in incorporating the richness and transmission of an ancestral savoir-faire incarnated by the association Sumano, Maria Grazia Chiuri takes her place in this fascinating history of reciprocal interplays of light between Dior and the African continent, in all its plurality.