Following a presentation in Mexico, Dior unveiled the official campaign for its Cruise 2024 collection. Starring singer and composer Vivir Quintana and directed by David Pablos (El Baile de los 41), the campaign is an ode to Mexican culture. But beyond the imagery, which nods to the symbolic figure of Frida Kahlo, these are the Mexican creatives and artisans involved.

Dior Cruise 2024 Campaign

Since she was appointed Dior’s creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri has championed collaborative efforts with artists and artisans across the globe. A self-proclaimed feminist, the Italian designer enlisted Mexican singer Vivir Quintana for Dior’s latest campaign. In a short film, the musician sings her hit single “Te mereces un amor,” as models showcase Dior’s Cruise designs. Arrieras Somos, the first all-female mariachi in France, accompanies Vivir Quintana with instrumentals. 

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But fashion, of course, is the focal point. In still images lensed by Brigitte Niedermair, models sport full skirts, embroidered dresses, architectural jackets, and sleek suits. (The latest are portrayed as a clear reference to the self-portrait Frida Khalo painted after her divorce from Diego Rivera). Mexican pink, butterfly motifs, floral patterns, and a wide variety of textiles merge in a campaign that aims to “embody the collective force, resilience, and pride of Mexican women.”

The images also feature signifiers associated with Kahlo’s work and persona, such as a calla floral arrangement and hair braids. The models’ sitting position even nods at the distinctive poses portrayed in Frida’s paintings.

DIOR CRUISE 2024 © Brigitte Niedermair

A controversial fashion show

The Cruise 2024 campaign comes off the heels of Dior’s fashion show in Cuidad de Mexico earlier this year. The event was received with mixed reviews and instant backlash. People accused the French brand of cultural appropriation, glamorizing violence against women, and tapping into Mexican stereotypes. 

The criticism, however, failed to acknowledge the outstanding efforts of Mexican creatives and artisans involved. Before the show, Dior had shared a press release detailing the creative process behind the collection. “Connected by a belief in the preservation of traditional techniques and the safeguarding of cultural practices embodied by textiles, Maria Grazia Chiuri has gathered different generations of artisans from different regions of Mexico,” the French brand shared. “The collaborative process has varied, encompassing the creation of original pieces mixing embroidery and weaving techniques with garments and accessories drawn from the Dior archives, and the commissioning of a collection of shirts and huipils entirely designed and crafted by the communities.” 

The artisans behind the collection

The French Maison also broke down the list of collaborators and their contributions to the collection. Nahua weaver Hilan Cruz Cruz, co-founder of the Yolcentle Textile Workshop, was responsible for creating shirts and dresses. The items incorporated embroideries inspired by the flora and fauna of his community. Similarly, Pedro Meza, owner of the workshop Sna Jolobil, and his artisans produced a gaban (square tunic) and sash belts. The accessories were designed with yarn embroideries by the Tzotzil communities of Zinacantan and San Juan Chamula.

Oaxaca native Remigio Mestas, a weaver and a promoter of artisanal textiles, oversaw the creation of four traditional huipils. The pieces featured traditional weaving, dyeing, and embroidery techniques by three different indigenous groups in Oaxaca. Likewise, Narcy Areli Morales, founder of the brand Rocinante, oversaw the creation and production of an embroidery technique known as “pepenado fruncido.” Morales worked with an all-female Mixtec community in San Lucas Redención to embroider pieces with animal motifs and geometric patterns.

Finally, Plata Villa and Alema Atelier collaborated with accessories such as jewelry and hats. The Plata Villa workshop led by Rafael Villa Rojas created butterfly rings, pendants, and bracelets. Meanwhile, the Alema workshop designed a Jarocho hat, typical of the state of Veracruz. 

A plea against violence

Just like she does in every show and stop around the world (Dior has presented collections in Seville and India over the past year), Maria Grazia Chiuri featured the work of an invited female artist on the runway. Feminist plastic artist Elina Chauvet conceived a collection of embroidered dresses specifically for the occasion. Chauvet is the mind responsible for the Zapatos Rojos installation, which denounces violence against women around the world. 

Created over the Spring of 2023 in Mexico City with a group of sixteen women embroiderers, the dresses are part of a project titled A Corazón Abierto. Although many onlookers and people on social media criticized the items — embroidered with symbols and phrases in red thread — the idea was a follow-up of Chauvet’s piece, Confianza

Photo courtesy of Dior

Confianza was conceived after the murder of Pippa Bacca. The Italian performance artist embarked on a trip to promote world peace dressed in a wedding gown. After traveling across the Balkans, Bacca disappeared. She was later found murdered in Istambul. As an homage to her work, Chauvet embroidered a white dress with words in red yarn and then took the piece around artistic residences. 

A Corazón Abierto

Reprising this concept, the dresses embroidered for the Dior Cruise show finale carried insults, symbols, and stereotypes often aimed to disqualify women. Chauvet used those phrases to protest against gender violence in Mexico, a country that in 2022 surpassed all-time numbers of women murdered by intentional homicide.

Responding to criticism, Chauvet replied to one comment on Instagram, “It is difficult to form a judgment from a photograph and also explain my work here. […] The insults followed by a little heart are precisely the irony of the myth of romantic love, and [phrases like] Run For Your Life do not refer to running for life in the face of an attack, but rather about running for the free and happy life that women can have.”