Fans Are Torn Over Dior’s Mexico Show Honoring Frida Kahlo
As is typical with such a prominent fashion house, Dior went all in with the details. The brand unveiled the collection at Colegio de San Ildefonso in Mexico City. You guessed it, that’s where Kahlo studied and met fellow artist and lover Diego Rivera.
Dior enlisted Mexican models wearing braids inspired by Rivera’s painting, “Calla Lily Vendor.” They worked with indigenous craftspeople from communities like the Nahua, Zapotec, and more. Yet even more fiercely, Dior worked closely with Mexican artist Elina Chauvet.
Still, opinions are wildly divided on the collection. Some people question “feminist” dresses labeled with phrases like “Run for your life” and whether a European brand should recreate what indigenous artisans have done for generations.
Everything to know about Dior’s new collection inspired by Frida Kahlo
Dior creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri explained backstage that she first found inspiration in Frida Kahlo as a teenager.
“I first saw [Kahlo’s] work at an exhibition in Rome when I was a teenager,” she said. “The first show I’d ever seen by a woman artist, and it made a lifelong impression.”
She continued, “Her work is so inspiring for women. What she did for her time was unbelievable,” calling the Coyoacán-born artist “pioneering” about gender and identity. No lies detected.
It seems like Chiuri knew she wanted to pay tribute to the surrealist painter for decades. She took the Mexico City show as an opportunity to enlist locals to bring it to life. As reported by Vogue, the show brought together countless Latina models, including several Mexican catwalk stars like Celic Dorig, Tindi Mar and Marsella Rea.
As Twitter queen @rebecamaccise showed, many of the designs find roots in Kahlo’s earliest photographs and her sometimes gender-bending style.
Even more, apart from inviting Mexican celebs to the show like Yalitza Aparicio and Aislinn Derbez, Dior also worked closely with indigenous artisans to make the collection. As per People en Español, artisans from the Nahua, Mazatec, Chinantec, Zapotec, Mixtec, and Tzotzil communities participated in the creative process. They also sat front-row at the show and wore traditional clothing they made themselves.
However, while one TikToker says the artisans received “fair pay,” it’s still crucial to ask: Who is getting recognition for this collection? Dior’s creative director, of course.
While the collaborative approach is being applauded by many, others still wonder why more people don’t “support local [Mexican] artisans” instead of the big brands pulling “inspiration” from them.
Dior also collaborated with Mexican artist Elina Chauvet
Another noteworthy part of the collection? Chiuri enlisted Mexican artist Elina Chauvet to help create 20 white dresses. The embroidered pieces were decorated with phrases like: “Feminism and resistance,” the Kahlo-inspired “Wings to fly” (from one of her most famous quotes) and “Viva mi vida.”
Chauvet is famous for her art installation “Zapatos Rojos,” which raises awareness about femicide and says “no more” to gender violence. The exhibit brings together hundreds of donated red shoes. Each pair symbolizes a woman who disappeared or lost her life to femicide.
While the exhibit began in Ciudad Juarez in 2009, the art installation has also appeared across Europe, the U.S., and Latin America.
On Instagram, Chauvet shared how much it meant for her and her all-women team to work with Dior. For one, she said she was “so happy,” calling the collaboration “beautiful” alongside “incredible women.”
“After months of work and stress, we finished one of the most beautiful projects of my life,” she said. “This work would not have been possible without the body and love of 16 women who with their talent gave form to my ideas.”
Meanwhile, Dior’s creative director said Chauvet’s work was the “most moving and poetic” performance she has ever seen. All the models wore red shoes as a nod to the artist, too.
Many are questioning “how empowering” the pieces and collection actually are
While there’s no doubt Dior enlisting Chauvet is an incredible way to honor a Mexican artist, some still found offense at the embroidered dresses — and other parts of the show.
TikToker @babybangs____ explained in a video that Dior’s Mexico show was “disappointing,” disgruntled at yet another designer focusing only on Kahlo. She asked, “Why every time someone from another country does something about Mexico, it’s always about Frida Kahlo?”
While still calling Kahlo “una chingona,” she added that “Mexican culture is about so much more than just one person.”
Apart from saying the collection is giving “Kendall Jenner for [her tequila brand] 818” (tee hee), the TikToker also reminded everyone that the collection’s gorgeous embroidery “can already be found in Mexico, made by Mexicans.”
She called the show “lazy” and also questioned the embroidered dresses made by the brand in collaboration with Chauvet. Pointing to the dress with the phrase “Run for your life,” the TikTok user asked, “What do you want to tell me? Is this message supposed to empower me? You’re only reminding me of the lack of safety there is in my country.” That.
Of course, that dress and another apron-embroidered piece most probably criticized machismo and patriarchal institutions — at least when looking back at Chauvet’s life’s work. However, if that was indeed the message, it didn’t come across for many.
As one Twitter user wrote, “They disappointed me… I think the worst was those messages on the dresses.” Asking, “Please, who approved this?”
Another mentioned how the runway show used the song “Sin Miedo” by Vivir Quintana, an anthem against femicide, seeing it as “disgusting” when coupled with the messages on the dresses.