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Maria Grazia Chiuri joins Dior's Hall of Fame of creative directors

Lauretta Roberts
08 July 2016

As expected Christian Dior has announced the appointment of Maria Grazia Chiuri to the position of artistic director. The former co-creative director of Valentino becomes the first ever woman to hold the position of chief designer at the prestigious French fashion house, which counts some of fashions most influential designers among its alumni.

Valentino announced the departure of Chiuri yesterday (leaving Pierpaolo Piccioli as sole creative director at the Italian house) after weeks of speculation that she would be appointed at Dior which has been left without a chief designer since Raf Simons announced his departure in a surprise move at the end of last year. As such Dior's announcement comes as no surprise but we now have more detail.

Dior

Raf Simons: left last year

Chiuri will be artistic director of womenswear taking in couture, ready-to-wear and accessories. Her first show for Dior will take place on 30 September and she takes up her new role next week. "It is a great honour to be joining the house of Dior," she said. "I measure the tremendous responsibility of being the first woman in charge of the creation in a house so deeply rooted in the pure expression of femininity. The endless wealth of its heritage continues to be a constant source of inspiration for fashion, and I cannot wait to express my own vision."

An historic house

The Dior role is one of the most coveted in fashion and some of fashion's most talented designers have headed the house, which was founded by Christian Dior in 1946. Dior caused a post-War sensation with his New Look, with its nipped in waists and wide skirts which some thought a shameful waste of fabric in the austere years that followed the conflict. However the instantly recognisable silhouette made him a worldwide hit.

Christian Dior: on the curriculum

Christian Dior: founded the house in 1946

Following Dior's untimely death 11 years later, the head designer's role went to a prodigious design talent Yves Saint Laurent who took up the role at the age of just 21. Saint Laurent was at the house for just three years and was sacked in 1960 while carrying out military service. He successfully sued Dior for breach of contract and went on to found his own hugely successful house (which had to do its own succession planning recently when Hedi Slimane was replaced by Anthony Vaccarello of Versus).

Dior

Marc Bohan in 1972

Saint Laurent was succeeded by Marc Bohan who enjoyed a long and successful period at the house, staying until 1989. Gianfranco Ferre replaced Bohan and stayed until 1997 when John Galliano was appointed. Galliano was fired after the controversy of anti-semitic remarks made while under the influence of alcohol in 2010 (a repentant Galliano spent years making amends with fashion and the Jewish community and is now creative director at Maison Margiela). Bill Gaytens held the fort post-Galliano and Raf Simons was appointed in 2012. He left at the end of last year citing the stresses of an exhausting schedule, though some believed he wanted full creative control at house which was the real cause of his consternation (it would appear to make some sense as he is believed to be the next creative director at Calvin Klein where he will have full creative control).

Dior Creative Directors - a timeline

1946-1957 Christian Dior

1957-1960 Yves Saint Laurent

1960-1989 Marc Bohan

1989-1997 Gianfranco Ferre

1997-2010 John Galliano

2010-2012 Bill Gaytens

2012-2015 Raf Simons

2016- Maria Grazia Chiuri

Several big-name designers had been cited in connection with the Dior job following Simons departure, including fellow female designers Phoebe Philo at Celine and Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen. Former Yves Saint Laurent creative director Hedi Slimane (who previously headed Dior Homme) was also thought to be under consideration, but Chiuri, who not only has great experience in couture and ready-to-wear, also has something of a Midas touch when it comes to the highly lucrative field of footwear and accessories and could breathe new life into this area of the business.

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