234: The Self-Empowered Woman: Maria Grazia Chiuri

Dear Followers,

I don’t know about you, but after emotionally dealing with our electoral politics, BREXIT, the situation in Dallas, and the massacre in Nice, I’m in the mood for something that is relatively removed from world events. And even though anything that affects women anywhere in the world is “political,” today I’d like to focus on a groundbreaking event in the “lightweight” world of fashion.

Last week it became public knowledge that Paris’ design house of Dior had named—for the first time in the label’s 69-year history—a woman as the head of its creative side. Maria Grazia Chiuri is 52 years old, and has proven her design worthiness at two famous houses—Fendi (from 1989 until 1999) and, since then, at Valentino. Chiuri has worked for years in a close partnership with designer Pierpaolo Piccioli, but at Dior she alone will be responsible for upcoming collections.

The married mother of two—her husband owns a shirt-tailoring business—has always called Rome her home. Industry observers are watching to see if she will relocate to Paris as a result of this history-making promotion. The daughter of a seamstress, Chiuri studied at the European Institute of Design in Rome, where she met Piccioli in the early 1980s.

A long-time supporter of “Cash & Rocket,” a charity founded in 2011 by Julie Brangstrup to benefit women in children in Africa, Chiuri has said: “As a woman, a mother and a career woman I understand the importance of solidarity amongst women. I know firsthand how women at home and in the workplace have to give that extra mile to get where they are going.”

One of Chiuri’s primary areas of strength is her ability to create marketable—and profitable—fashion. In a little over five years, annual sales at Valentino have quadrupled—and nearly doubled its profit on revenue of more than $1 billion in 2015. Additionally, she and Piccioli were behind the “baguette bag” that was so successful at Fendi.

Chiuri has tapped into the allure of celebrities, by winning loyal admiration from artists like Sofia Coppola, Keira Knightley, Tilda Swinton, Chloe Sevigny, Cameron Diaz, Dakota Fanning and Gwyneth Paltrow. She and Piccioli garnered tons of free publicity when they invited Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson to storm their fall 2015 show at Paris Fashion Week.

The “new era” at Dior will begin in September with the women’s ready-to-wear shows in Paris…


About Marilyn Murray Willison

The author of six non-fiction books, Willison worked as Health and Fitness Editor at the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, and wrote book reviews, health, beauty, fashion, and travel articles on a regular basis for the Los Angeles Times. Her byline has appeared in a wide variety of American newspapers and magazines.