The fashion industry experienced a first on Thursday: Dior showed their Pre-Fall collection in Mumbai, marking the first time a major fashion label outside of India has shown in the country. The large island city hosted a bevy of stars, from Bollywood and beyond, and industry insiders to take in creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri’s
latest offering for Dior. The show took place right in front of the Gateway of India, the most familiar architectural icon of Mumbai, originally built in 1924 to celebrate the arrival of the British monarch King George V. It also served as the final departing place for British troops in 1947 as India finally gained independence as its own country. Situated across from the opulent Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, the space served as the optimal setting for Dior to merge worlds and conquer borders as it redefines global fashion and honors India as a hub for fashion, commerce, and craft. As Chiuri stated via Instagram: “I personally wanted to celebrate and showcase the incredible knowledge India offers to the international world of fashion in the field of embroidery, the mastery of the artisans who continue to work on this craft, and the commitment of Chanakya’s founders to preserving India’s history and culture, portrayed by each embroidery technique.”
The ateliers she is referring to is the Chanakya Ateliers and their School of Craft, whom Chiuri has been working with for decades to realize rich embroideries and beading in her work. A majority of major European fashion labels utilize the handicraft of Indian artisans
, most of the time without credit given to these dedicated workers who have passed along the trade through generations. The tradition is also male-led, something Chanakya set out to change by introducing women to the craft and paying them fair wages. Chiuri’s feminist ethos formed an allyship with this pairing, giving space to these talented women.
Their attention to detail and precise work is cherished amongst luxury labels yet rarely celebrated, at least not as openly and majorly as they were this evening in Mumbai by Dior. The Chanakya School of Craft, established in 2017 by sisters Karishma and Nehal Shah, created a Toran, or an entryway, in front of the Gateway of India, requiring over 35,000 hours of handiwork to hand sew and embroider the 46-foot archway. Torans are typically hung in entryways to West Indian homes to welcome guests, serving as the perfect backdrop for the opulent Fall show.
The show was replete with East-meets-West motifs, honoring Indian traditional dressing like pajama dressing, saris, and wrap skirts reimagined in Chiuri’s vision for Dior. The rich color palette spoke to the wondrous colors that Indian dressing uses, including signature fuschias and rich indigoes. Delicately embroidered floral patterns recalled a vast range of wildlife in India, realized on shift dresses, luxe cotton poplin shirting and skirts, and metallic mini-dresses. Accessories were minimal, with stacks of pearls and simple laced sandals, and even luxe flip flops, letting the intricate craft of the ready-to-wear do the talking. The overall effect was one of true community, with Chiuri embracing the global vision of fashion she set out to create in her tenure at Dior. India’s place in the fashion industry is oft overlooked, but it was truly celebrated and recognized as a veritable player in the industry they’ve often influenced.
Kevin LeBlanc is the Fashion Associate at ELLE Magazine. He covers fashion news, trends, and anything to do with Robyn Rihanna Fenty.