Dior's Maria Grazia Chiuri on Her New Life in Paris: " I Am Like a Tourist in Diorland"
A year after leaving Valentino in Rome to become Dior's first female artistic director, the designer is still settling into her new life in Paris. (Pasta, s'il vous plaît!)
8 a.m. LA VIE EN ROSE
This is the first time I've been based in Paris, and although I'm familiar with the city, there's still so much to discover. I walk to work every day, often through the Jardin du Luxembourgh, across the street from my apartment. It's really nice to wake up and stroll into the gardens. I can watch people run or read a book in a little café nearby.
9 a.m. FIRST ORDER
Normally I have a coffee outside at a café, but it's too soon for me to have a specific routine because I am still exploring this company. I am like a tourist in Diorland. I have to study the heritage and archives, and I don't even understand all the buildings. We speak three languages here—French, English, and Italian—so it's always exciting to see another point of view, and in France there is this idea of couture that you feel everywhere.
I have to design in a sophisticated way to achieve what I want.
11 a.m. SETTING A SCENE
Dior is a big factor, and step-by-step we arrive at a collection. I start two months early because it's like making a film: You have an idea, find the location, decide on the models, and test the different areas of craftsmanship. Each detail helps tell the story.
Dior's historic offices have been home to its couture atelier since 1946.
1 p.m. IN DEVELOPMENT
When I design, I'm not alone in a closed room. I connect other elements that might be interesting because I am very open. There are probably more talented people who can do their work in two hours, but I'm not like them. I choose colors and materials and have arguments about bags and shoes. We have a big buffet during the fittings, and there is always a debate about that too. Eating in Paris is a hard thing for an Italian. Can't we have something simple? A salad? Some rice?
"I didn't want to do a reference to the red carpet," Chiuri says of taking her resort 2018 show to L.A. "People also come here for the beautiful weather."
3 p.m. BIG PICTURE
I think a lot about how fashion speaks to women. When I arrived here, everyone said Dior is a feminine brand, but I wondered, "What does that mean today?" Christian Dior said women are like flowers, but we have to find a different way to communicate. What do women think now? What do they want? I think they want opportunity.
When I had doubts about moving to Dior, my family really supported me. It is difficult to change roles and test yourself, but they said, "Don't worry!"
I like to think of Georgia O'Keeffe as this shamanistic woman, as she would go around in the desert in a kimono-like coat.
MY DAILY MANTRA
In the past, fashion imposed its point of view on women, but the new generation see it as a way to express themselves. They want to use clothes as a means to freedom, with no rules. As a designer, I think about how my work can support a positive message and help spread more tolerance, hopefully.
7 p.m. GRAND TOUR
During the week I live alone in Paris, so I go out at night and visit the museums and libraries. What am I going to do, stay at home and look at a wall? There are some restaurants I like, but the food is too rich and has too much sauce, so I decided to start cooking. It's impossible not to. I'm too much of an Italian!
ME TIME EXPLORE
My husband [shirtmaker Paolo Regini] and I love to drive in the Southwestern United States because with all the big roads and space, it's safer to go fast.
I know it's not scientific, but I like astrology. I'm an Aquarius, just like Mr. Dior. We are curious, not nostalgic.
I love massages! There's a beautiful Dior spa right in front of our office.
REMIX: Chiuri covered modernism, feminism and prehistoricism in a single cruise collection. "You'll find some elements that work together in the moment,' she says.
"I found a beautiful dress in the archives inspired by the Lascaux cave paintings, but I wanted to create that in jacquard rather than as a print."
As told to Eric Wilson.