If other runways had been a touch reticent in their messaging on current times – many pumping for empowerment through strength and protection via dressing – for Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior, the first female to helm the storied house, Autumn/Winter 2018 was certainly not a time to go quietly into the night. Observing the 50th anniversary of the 1968 youth protests as a central mode, telegraphed not only through the collection itself, but also ripped up and pasted across the physical space of the Musée Rodin – collaged inside, on the runway itself and on the exterior of the iconic building – it was clear from the get-go, for Chiuri this movement is only just getting started.
Opening statements were key, and to any who may have needed a nudge as to the message the designer was trying to impart, 'C'est Non, Non, Non, Et Non' rang out loud and clear on a chic and rather retro sweater. Galvanising thought and discussion is, after all, the stance Chiuri has taken from the outset of her tenure, and, a far cry from the more wistful romanticism of her Valentino days. Delving into the legacy of these turbulent times of protest, the Dior woman has graduated from the 'We Should All Be Feminists' tees or all-navy utilitarian beret-wearers of past seasons, and is now serious in her stance that 'Women's Rights Are Human Rights', demonstrating emancipation in her choices of clothing and assured in her individuality.
More than just reminiscent of late-'60s style, there was a literalness to things, from jazzed-up peace signs on sweaters, vivid patchwork jackets, dresses, skirts and knee-high boots to teddy-bear coats and crochet and flower-power smocks and jackets. The season's big story – checks – meanwhile, were everywhere, in slouchy suiting, tie-waist blanket skirts, knife-pleated kilts and long blazers. Topped with the quintessential retro paperboy hat and paired with yellow, orange and rose-tinted specs, every inch of the runway felt led by the pragmatism of past times. Yet, from end-to-end, Chuiri's collection posed the pressing question, how far have we really come if this conversation remains relevant and important, 50 years on in 2018?