Punctuated with committed artworks, the show venue for the fall-winter 2020-2021 ready-to-wear collection by Maria Grazia Chiuri stood in the heart of the Tuileries Gardens1 — a veritable open-air museum right in the heart of Paris.

  • Born of a shared passion between the Creative Director and the “collective artist” Claire Fontaine (see portrait) for feminist history and the need to bring key moments in women’s emancipation to the fore, the collaboration resulted in an audacious installation.

     Right at the entrance, the eye-catching words “I Say I2” evoked the title of the introduction to the manifesto La presenza dell'uomo nel femminismo, written in 1971 by the Italian art critic-turned-feminist activist Carla Lonzi with her sister Marta Lonzi and Anna Jaquinta. An emblem of their revolt, this pithy phrase symbolizes a joyous declaration of singularity, and a creative and collective way of approaching the many facets of feminine subjectivity.

  • Like a dialogue with silhouettes in movement, a series of laconic illuminated statements suspended above the catwalk contemplated “how reality could or should be perceived were we not conditioned by the masculine point of view,” explained Claire Fontaine. The word “Consent” – which featured several times in flashing traffic-light colors – read as both an imperative and a question, acting as a counterpoint to the word “Love”, spelled out in fiery red. Like the flashing, consent can exist one moment, quickly fade and then come back again.

  • Claire Fontaine’s LED signs delivered powerful observations such as “Patriarchy Kills Love,” “Women Raise the Upraising,” and “Women are the Moon that Moves the Tides.” “They act as subtitles, materializing emotions and subjects that fashion treats as parenthetical, in order to allow people to dream unfettered,” explains Fulvia Carnevale, one half of the committed collective, opposite James Thornhill.

  • The models walked on a new version of the collective’s work Newsfloor, consisting of pages from the French newspaper Le Monde glued on the floor. The piece, entitled Le Monde Pixélisé, was inspired by a photo of Henri Matisse, taken by Robert Capa in 1949. The artist is captured drawing in a bourgeois living room that he used as a studio. The floor is covered in newspapers, their pages resembling tiles or parquet. This “visual noise” for Claire Fontaine symbolizes the idea of bringing the exterior into the exhibition space, at the crossroads of convictions and uprisings, aesthetics and ethics.

A vital impulse and the need to create a space for freedom, a concept echoing the collection by Maria Grazia Chiuri, whose savoir-faire celebrates the pluralistic beauty of women — and the possibility of showcasing it ad infinitum.

1The House of Dior and the Louvre Museum announced a five-year partnership for the replanting and restoration of the Tuileries Gardens. Dior’s monumental show space was installed in the heart of this exceptional garden (not far from Jean Dubuffet’s sculpture, Le Bel Costumé). By lending its support to this major historical French landmark – one that embodies the meeting of beauty, nature and culture – the House renews its commitment to protecting the environment.

2Io dico Io – I say I is also the title of an exhibition that will be held at the National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rome from March 23rd to June 21st, 2020. Produced with Dior’s support, it is loosely inspired by the feminist manifesto of Carla Lonzi, whose spirit infuses this collection and the artworks conceived for the show.

©Courtesy of Claire Fontaine, Air de Paris, Galerie Neu and T293

Photo credit - Adrien Dirand