Dior’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri has tapped two visionary women – artist Mickalene Thomas and designer Grace Wales Bonner – to reinterpret Christian Dior’s Bar jacket for the Cruise 2020 show. Here, they tell Vogue about how they’ve made it their own.
Since taking over at Christian Dior in 2016, Maria Grazia Chiuri has sought to reframe the historic house – helmed by men until her appointment – as a feminist fashion brand. Up until now, she’s done so through Insta-worthy slogan T-shirts and by teaming up with standout female creatives, from South Korean sculptor Lee Bul to Colombian textile artist Olga de Amaral.
For her Cruise 2020 collection – a collaboration with some of Africa’s finest designers and makers – Chiuri also tapped African-American contemporary artist Mickalene Thomas and LVMH Prize-winning British fashion designer Grace Wales Bonner to reinterpret Christian Dior’s iconic Bar jacket. Both women, representing two different generations (Thomas is in her late-forties, Wales Bonner in her late-twenties), are renowned for addressing issues of race, identity and gender.
“I wanted to continue the [Lady Dior Art] project with the New Look because it is the most iconic silhouette of Mr Dior,” Chiuri tells Vogue ahead of the show, hosted at Marrakech’s El Badi Palace. “I wanted Grace and Mickalene to add a different point of view to this silhouette, like I did when I first arrived at Dior.”
Here, Thomas and Wales Bonner tell Vogue how they feel about reinterpreting such an emblematic design.
“This was a little out of my territory… I love fashion, but I had to rely solely on the direction of my partner, Racquel Chevremont, because she actually wears women’s clothes. I was really thinking about what she would want to wear.
“I wanted my take on the Bar jacket to be very sophisticated, but I also wanted something fun – hence the flowing, iridescent skirt. I like having a patchwork version of Monet’s landscape integrated into the body, allowing the jacket to be the silhouette of a body set against this beautiful landscape that’s coming from the back and shoulders.
“My practice pulls from cultural history, French Impressionism specifically in this case, and I wanted to create a wearable performance costume. It is both art and fashion: there will be people who want it as a limited-edition piece, as an [art] object, which they don’t wear it at all; and then you’ll have someone who will wear it as fashion, perhaps with the Lady Dior bag I created. And that’s the intent.
“[This project] is everything. It is very empowering and it gives me a sense of accountability and agency, allowing me to really set the precedent for what is possible.”