The star-studded audience of the Dior 2020 Cruise Collection show which included the likes of Lupita Nyong’o, Diana Ross, Jessica Alba and more were treated to a magnificent mega-production of a perfect blend of fashion, culture, history, and music. The Dior 2020 Cruise Collection titled Common Ground which showed yesterday at the El Badi Palace in Marrakech ditched cultural appropriation and in a welcome move, opted for cultural appreciation; marrying identities, culture, and fashion in a single night with a mind-blowing presentation that truly merged the best of both worlds.
From the Jajouka musicians who were accompanied by the British electronic band The Orb to the location itself which houses ancient histories of glorious African monarchy and famed rulers to the diverse cast of models to the pieces showcased. The collection itself is an ode to globalization, inclusivity, and diversity – words which have grown to mean a lot to marginalized communities and the world itself and has spread to several if not all industries.
Knowing the age we live in, creative director of Dior Maria Grazia Chiuri walked a tightrope as she took on the task of getting this collection to the land of the right side of the flip coin that is cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation.
The show opened with a quote by Moroccan writer Tahar Ben Jelloun:
Culture teaches us to live together, teaches us that we’re not alone in the world, that other people have different traditions and ways of living that are just as valid as our own.
Amongst the pieces showcased, it included a re-imagination of Dior’s Classic Bar by British-Jamaican designer Grace Wales Bonner and African-American artist Mickalene Thomas, a chemise in honor of the late Nelson Mandela by South African shirt-maker Pathé’O. Maria Grazia Churi also worked with Grosfilley and Uniwax to weave the codes of Dior into toiles de jouy as well Moroccan craftswoman Sumano on the show’s scenography and created a surreal scenery with traditional local pottery and textiles.
Not long after the show, Omoyemi Akerele, founder of Style House Files and Lagos Fashion Week, took to Twitter to share her opinion on the Dior 2020 Cruise Collection. She wrote;
— Omoyemi Akerele (@OmoyemiAkerele) April 30, 2019
At least it’s in support of local manufacturing…
They pay tax(es) on the continent..
Create jobs in their factories..
Provide income which is needed..
Why should it matter that the company’s predominantly
owned by the Dutch / PE – Actis?
— Omoyemi Akerele (@OmoyemiAkerele) April 30, 2019
However, things got more intense when BoF Writer Susie Lau who was at the show in Morroco, shared a review of the collection on her Instagram page. She added that; “This was the “Africa” collection to atone for all the other “faux-Africa” collections hailing from Western fashion brands that came before“.
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Years or even sooner, from now when the four fashion capitals no longer exist or have moved, and the axes of mainstream culture have shifted to continents beyond USA and Europe, we will talk about this @dior #DiorCruise show and its ambitious endeavour to bridge cultures, and truly be inclusive, not just in terms of casting but in the formation of the collection #MariaGraziaChiuri could have come to Marrakech, mined a few YSL/Dior references and called it a day Instead she went deep. This was the “Africa” collection to atone for all the other “faux-Africa” collections hailing from Western fashion brands that came before Where to begin? Anne Grosfilley, an expert on African textiles was a consultant on the collection, bringing her in-depth knowledge of wax print fabric and its origins that traversed between Europe, Asia and Africa – a globalised fabric before globalisation happened. The collection was filled with it and was made in collaboration with @uniwaxciv in Ivory Coast and, more importantly, every piece of wax print in the collection (and there were a lot) will be produced there for sales. That in itself is brave, to incorporate a Made in Ivory Coast, Africa label into a French maison Then there were the significant and poignant collaborations @walesbonner and her reinterpretation of the Bar jacket inflected with Caribbean inspirations. Another crossing of shores and boundaries Artist @mickalenethomas and her beautiful beaded and collaged Sunday Best ensemble Pathé’O, one of Africa’s best known designers namely because of his shirts worn by Nelson Mandela and his tribute in the collection to the great man himself Even the cushions we were sitting on were created by Moroccan craftswomen Sumano This is a collection that aims to educate and illuminate the craft of a continent, one which the average person in Europe might not connect with fashion or textiles And it’s a tall order given the amount of information and collaborators involved But that will be down to the responsible story telling we as media and Dior themselves do. It is our duty to be informed and then inform others. That’s how cultural appropriation truly becomes appreciation #DiorCommonGround
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