In what could only described as a magnificent presentation, French luxury house Dior unveiled it’s 2020 Cruise Collection in the Moroccan city of Marrakech. The countdown, lead-up events and the presentations were well-documented and with a media presence that is expected of a luxury giant like Dior.
The collection’s release – the collection itself an attempt at globalization, ‘cultural appreciation’ and a celebration of ‘African fashion’ -triggered conversations between as well as a flurry of questions from African fashion industry leaders which could be summarized with one word. Why?
Why did a French luxury brand feel the need to have an African inspired collection? Why the intellectual laziness that causes The West to reference to Africa – a continent of fifty-four countries and more diverse cultures than there are colours in the world- as though it is one country with one culture and monolithic fashion industry? Why did fashion influencer and digital journalist Susie Lau sound like Africans should be grateful that Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri didn’t just go to Marrakech, mine a few YSL/Dior references and called it a day? Why was Morocco referred to as the leading country of fashion in Africa?
Following the conversations had on and beyond social media, model and film maker Adesuwa Aighewi shared a video on Instagram where she has a conversation with Maria Grazia Churi, creative director of Dior, and we get to hear from the creative director herself on why the brand went the direction it did.
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Yesterday, during hair and makeup Dior posted a video before the show teasing hints about their debuted “African”inspired collection which was moments away from walking down the runway in Morocco, “The leading country of fashion in Africa”, the caption read, both of which i had questions about. I immediately asked @emperor.lee the casting director for a chance to have a conversation with Maria, the creative director of Dior as the instagram post had so many negative comments with sentiments of cultural appropriation, artist recognition and stuff like that. you know, the typical foreigner comes to Africa… takes ideas and no mention of credit nor proper research. About 20 mins pass and I was told in 30 mins Maria would be ready to talk, so i go have a cig and a PR dude comes by to remind me about my interview with her and it turns out she’s right behind me smoking a cig so, I pull out my phone. I had a couple questions, like… Who told them Morocco was the leader of fashion in Africa? and also why make an African inspired collection for a French house? What research was done for the collection and also who did they consult? Honestly it felt really great about speaking up to just ask the simple questions. I couldn’t walk a show where multiple Africans had voiced discontent. After our talk, Dior took down the original caption and made sure the conversation was about the preservation of fashion techniques that are being lost was the focus, artisans who need proper recognition for their craft and the need for a conversation between each other. The whole day was about that. Meeting @martinehenrymillinery And @softtouchbeautypalace who were consulted for the Gele and wax history all off african decent. Discussions are critical to understand and move towards a positive future where there are less barriers and encourage an Africa where the artisans are properly treated and valued as they are in the West. Also this has shown us the need for infrastructure in other parts of Africa to allow for a stream of foreign business bc then we’d control the narrative. I’m really happy about that thanks Maria for the talk thank u for reading thank u Michelle and ??????
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