If all goes as expected, Dior is getting its first-ever female creative director in the house's 70-year long history: Reports from multiple outlets on Thursday have it that Maria Grazia Chiuri will soon join to helm the stored French couture house, leaving her post as creative director at Valentino after next July's couture show. It's a position she's shared with Pierpaolo Piccioli, her designer partner in crime, since 2008, revitalizing the Italian house in a way no doubt appealing to the heads at Dior, which has been without a creative director since Raf Simons departed in October. Here, everything you need to know about the designer before the official announcement drops.
She’s all about teamwork: “I don’t like working on my own,” Chiuri told W in 2014. Indeed, she’s been working working and designing with Piccioli for more than two decades: Back in 1989, she invited him to join her in designing at Fendi, and a decade later, they started working on accessories together at Valentino, before taking over the brand’s creative helm another decade later.
She has Roman roots: Though Valentino usually shows in Paris, Chiuri lives with her husband and two children in Rome, where both she and Piccioli studied design. For fall 2015, they even showed a homecoming collection in the city, and have been set to open a couture school there for a few years now.
She defines personal style: Forget Valentino red: Chiuri dyed her hair pink for the premiere of Zoolander 2 earlier this year. In recent years, though, she’s stuck to bleached blonde, keeping her hands stacked full of rings as she’s worn everything from leather pants to masks to silk kimonos.
She’s no stranger to new beginnings: Since taking over in 2008, Chiuri and Piccioli have paid their respects to the Valentino's heritage – with no shortage of Valentino red – but revitalized it with a modern, elegant romanticism, favoring both high necks and psychedelic prints. Even the accessories – which Chiuri, who worked on Fendi’s original Baguette bag, and spent ten years in Valentino’s accessories department, is somewhat of a master at – have gotten an update: Take their stud-covered shoes, bags, and clutches, popular with names like Alexa Chung.
She’s not afraid to have fun: Embellishing the house’s regular ad campaigns, Chiuri’s also tapped the Italian street artist solo to create massive Wonder Woman murals for Valentino, the most recent of which went up in New York in April. And then, of course, there’s what can happen on the runway: Chiuri and Piccioli are Zoolander superfans, and they tapped Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson to storm their fall 2015 show at Paris Fashion Week – letting just one person on staff know beforehand.
She knows her art history: Solo’s hardly the only artist Chiuri’s tracked down: Take Canadian artist Christi Belcourt, who the company emailed and invited to Milan, eventually incorporating her pointillist, floral paintings into its resort 2016 collection. Her influences are hardly limited to contemporaries: Valentino’s collections are often replete with art historical references – many of them, of course, harking back to ancient Rome.
She loves dance: Chiuri and Piccioli collaborated with Sofia Coppola for her operatic debut in Rome last month, outfitting dancers in costumes so detailed they also became haute couture dresses for a staging of Verdi’s “La Traviata.” And just a few months ago, their fall 2016 collection was full-on Black Swan ** with its ballet inspirations: tiered tulle, tutus, and rehearsal-like gear, with nods to the Ballets Russes and choreographers like Merce Cunningham.
She’s a master at couture: Chiuri and Piccioli’s consistently ethereal couture collections quickly became a cornerstone of the house, finding so much popularity they expanded their ateliers, not to mention injecting youth into the industry with a rare army of twenty-somethings. They’ve even tried their hand at couture denim.
She knows how to resurrect a brand: Chiuri and Piccioli have ballooned Valentino’s profits since taking over: Just this year, the house reached $1 billion a full two years earlier than expected. No doubt that experience will come in handy at Dior.