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Mumbai Based Artisans Embroidered Banners For Dior’s Feminist-Themed Haute Couture Show And It Is An Empowering Story

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“I have learned that you never know what will happen if you live long enough and put art out into the world.”- Judy Chicago, 80, Feminist Artist

There are three things that women will forever bond over…fashion, food, and feminism! With so many women taking up the mantle of changemakers, leaders and influencers, the ideology of feminism is no longer crashing in the shadows. The fashion industry has taken it upon themselves to demand equality and Dior’s recent Haute Couture presentation in Paris is one of them.

The show has been a passion project for creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri. The set was designed to bring feminist artist Judy Chicago’s decades-old work of art, titled The Female Divine, to life. The idea poses the question of how the world would look if women had the same opportunities as men. Apart from models walking down the runway on the label’s high-fashion garbs, the venue was laden with huge banners with phrases like “What if Women Ruled the World?” “Would God Be Female?” “Would Both Men and Women Be Gentle?” “Would Both Men and Women Be Strong?” “Would there be Private Property?” “Would There Be Violence?”.

What makes this story a whole lotta lovely for us is that the banners were hand-embroidered by artisans of Mumbai-based The Chanakya School of Embroidery and Fine Crafts. The school is home to female students who learn the craft free of cost and in turn, enrich their community and themselves.

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Founded by the designer duo Karishma Swali and Monica Shah of JADE, the school is on the mission of female empowerment and inclusivity. In an interview with The Voice Of Fashion, the duo revealed, “We have worked with Maria Grazia Chiuri for over 20 years. She is a lover of craft, a humanitarian, and a creative visionary. When we were considering a not-for-profit school as a center of excellence, it was Maria Grazia who suggested that we establish this school for the empowerment of women who had been historically excluded from master craftsmen roles in India.”.

A major challenge in the fashion industry has been to bring about functional changes with the help of theoretical ideas. On paper, a group of self-driven women making set decorations for a major luxury label seems like a dream, yet, they were able to implement it. It wouldn’t have been possible without an effective line of logistics and artists who believe in the mission.

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21 panels. Over 2800 hours. A month long journey. And the result – a spectacular show by Maria Grazia, Judy Chicago and the entire team! When @mariagraziachiuri asked if our students from could collaborate on hand-crafting a feminist, thought-provoking set designed by @judy.chicago for @dior Spring-Summer 2020 Haute Couture show, we could not be more thrilled. This has been an immensely enriching experience for our girls, who poured all their heart into these panels and loved the questions it posed. It feels amazing to see their work stand proudly halfway across the globe! Thank you @mariagraziachiuri & @dior for your love and support! #WeAreAllFeminists #TheFutureIsFeminist #CreatingLuxury #ChanakyaSchoolOfCraft #SavioreFaire

A post shared by JADE by Monica and Karishma (@jade_bymk) on

The designers also revealed the effort that went into bringing the project to fruition, “The 21 panels our students crafted for this project truly compliment a couture show. The project was realised over one month with the participation of 150 female students, and each panel, which measured up to 3×2 meters, required anywhere between 500 to 2800 work hours. The installation drew upon the oeuvre of feminist artist Judy Chicago. Her work, The Dinner Party, is a landmark feminist art installation created in the 70s, which espoused the values of community and collaboration. It was that spirit of community and collaboration that our students channeled while working on this project and helping each other along the way.”

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Here’s hoping to see many more collaborations like such in the future!



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