Exchange Rate: Dior

Exchange Rate: Dior

Artist Mickalene Thomas and Dior Artistic Director Maria Grazia Chiuri discuss their recent collaboration and taking inspiration from the magic of North Africa.

Artist Mickalene Thomas and Dior Artistic Director Maria Grazia Chiuri discuss their recent collaboration and taking inspiration from the magic of North Africa.

Photography: Mat + Kat

Styling: Aryeh Lappin

Text: SAMUEL ANDERSON

In April, Dior broke new ground with Cruise 2020, the house’s first-ever show in Africa. Besides mixing actual travel and travel-inspired fashion, the Marrakech-set show offered an intimate view of Morocco’s artistic lineage—one long referenced and romanticized from afar. From a score of Sufi music commissioned by Michel Gaubert to a stray cat’s unexpected runway debut, the impressions comprised what Artistic Director Maria Grazia Chiuri calls a “map track[ing] a journey through different sets [of] traditions.”
Adding to this cultural odyssey was the collection itself, which included artist collaborations with British menswear designer Grace Wales Bonner and the New York-based Mickalene Thomas, who also contributed to the house’s latest Dior Lady Art bag range, is known for her hybridic, inclusive portraiture. Here, she and Chiuri discuss the global landscape of art and fashion.
V: Tell us a bit about your collaboration for Cruise 2020.
Maria Grazia Chiuri: Mickalene’s look is an iconic silhouette—the Bar Jacket, originated in 1947—[reimagined as] a sort of material and feminist interpretation of Monet.
Mickalene ThomasIt [encapsulates] my collage aesthetic [while] embrac[ing] the elegance that Dior represents; it’s about the hybridity of luxury and culture.
V: Mickalene, what is the thought behind your referencing French artistic traditions?
MT: Around the late 19th and early 20th century, sitters for the classic nude genre ceased to be anonymous props, asserting their identities through the gaze. My work has always been about representing figures largely absent from the canon—[namely] African American women…Returning to the past [is] a way of determining what is missing from the conversation, and what I can add to it.
V: Did you have a certain “muse” in mind when creating the jacket?
MTAs a matter of fact, it was my partner Racquel Chevremont. For all my Dior projects, I ask myself, what would Racquel carry or wear? She loves to have her back exposed, so I wanted something that would be light and airy while striking on the back.
V: What was your relationship to Morocco prior to Cruise 2020?
MGC: My first encounter with Morocco was a reader of [Moroccan-French novelist] Tahar Ben Jelloun. By researching further, I discovered how the extraordinary architecture, landscapes, and colors of Morocco have shaped Dior collections over the years. When I visited, I was in love.

Credits: Makeup: Ingeborg using Dior Makeup Hair: Evanie Frausto Model: Luisana Gonzalez (NEXT) Manicure: Maki Sakamoto (The Wall Group) Set Design: Tim Ferro Production: Kendall Thompson Photo Assistant: Alex Hopkins Location: ROOT NYC

UP NEXT

Gucci and Snap Inc. Celebrate a Fashion-Infused Film Collaboration at Art Basel