Suzky Menkes has a new podcast.
According to the veteran fashion editor, the of “Creative Conversations” is to engage with creatives and industry leaders who are “some of the voices with the greatest impact.” Menkes’ first guest is lady boss at Dior Maria Grazia Chiuri.
This first episode exemplifies how great of an interviewer Suzy Menkes is. She is both forthright and genuinely curious.
Below we list five things we learned from that illuminating conversation.
#1 – In the wake of the global pandemic, Maria Grazia Chiuri doesn’t believe in slowing down.
“I don’t even think I can count the number of Dior shows and events you’ve done,” says Menkes, “The Dior Cruise in Marrakesh, the Dior ball in Venice, and the opening of the Dior exhibition in Dallas—all that was in three weeks!”
Menkes asks Chiuri if in the wake of the global pandemic, the fashion industry is effectually being a severe warning to slow down.
Chiuri concedes that it’s a very difficult question, but ultimately says, “I don’t believe it.” According to Chiuri, difficulties experienced by her global team and the rest of the fashion industry will inevitably have everyone looking for a solution to “organize in some way,” but that doesn’t mean going back to the much romanticized pace of the past.
#2 – Maria Grazia Chiuri does not separate her private and work lives. Also, couture is not cancelled!
Well, the fashion show is cancelled, but the spirit of couture is not. According to Chiuri, the couture ateliers are currently working from home, but “it’s very difficult to realize a couture show in this way.” Chiuri says she has an new idea brewing for how to promote couture, but she cannot reveal it quite yet.
Chiuri says, “Couture is not something you can understand with video or pictures.” Opposed to making couture operations function solely for clients, Chiuri also stresses the importance of developing the couture collections as an opportunity to experiment and “test new craftsmanship.”
When asked about what her regular day is like now, and if it’s difficult having both her work and private lives meld, Chiuri says, “My work and private life has always been together,” stating that it’s normal for her to discuss work with her family and that her children practically “grew up in fashion.”
#3 – Monsieur Dior may be a man, but Dior the maison is a feminine brand.
Asked about Monsieur Dior’s vision of la femme fleur, Chiuri recalls, “When I first arrived at Dior, the first thing that people told me is that it’s a feminine brand.” She says it’s an important point, but that ultimately “we have to reflect a lot what that means.”
Menkes and Chiuri talks about Dior’s recent collaborations with female artist, which have so far included the likes of Tracy Emin, Tomaso Binga, and Judy Chicago. Chiuri says, “Fashion is industry and business, but it’s also about identity.”
#4 – Being part of a design duo means “always negotiating.”
About Chiuri’s Valentino days working alongside Pierpaolo Piccioli, Menkes asks, “What is it like to be a designer duo? I can’t imagine it!”
Chiuri says, “When you are working with someone, you have to always negotiate something. That is normal. Now I feel I have more freedom to express my own vision.”
Chiuri says that there’s a lot one can learn from teamwork, recalling similar experiences of working collaboratively with Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti, as well as the Fendi sisters.
Asked what she learned from Valentino himself Chiuri says, “He was precise in his point of view. He never changed.”
#5 – Maria Grazia Chiuri is using pandemic-induced lull time to reflect about fashion.
“Fashion is obsessed with the latest novelty,” says Chiuri, but one thing she learned from digging into the Dior archives is his attention to detail and craftsmanship.
Chiuri describes Monsieur Dior as “a creative businessman” who understood that the brand had to be global. Chiuri says, for example, that “he understood immediately that you needed parfum.”
Menkes links a similar talent to Chiuri herself, whose veiled beret at the Fall 2017 show has since become an iconic international bestseller.
Chiuri says that this is an asset particular to Dior, for being the only house that has a designated atelier to develop hats. Chiuri says, “I love hats!” —JG
Listen to the podcast here.
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