EXCLUSIVE: Inside Dior’s Artisanal Love Letter to Mumbai

In the final days of March, Dior held a landmark fashion show in Mumbai. It wasn’t the first time that the enormously populous Indian city has played host to a fashion show but this was perhaps the largest luxury fashion spectacle ever held there, made doubly important by the meta aspects surrounding the show.

On a tangible level, Dior’s Fall 2023 collection was steeped in Indian artistry. Handcraft provided by Chanakya School Of Craft — director Karishma Swali is close with Dior Women’s overseer Maria Grazia Chiuri — brings together centuries-old handicraft with motifs typical of Dior.

The resulting clothing is a similarly immediate melding of cultural codes.

Dior’s signature bolero jackets and draped, thigh-length shirts were styled alongside sari-style skits, all realized in rich Kanchipuram silks that were at once an homage to India’s incomparable textiles and former Dior director Marc Bohan, the silk-obsessed designer who was the first to initiate the conversation between Dior and Mumbai.

Hand-set sequins, painstaking floral embroidery, and intricate block-printed patterns epitomize the attitude. This is couture-level detailing within a Dior prêt-à-porter presentation.

That such exquisite materials would be sent down the runway as ready-to-wear itself speaks to the origins of India’s unique fabrics.

The gorgeously humble khadi beloved by Gandhi and the centuries-old Tangaliya weave were born from a desire for self-sufficiency (known in India as “Swadeshi). Their inherent loveliness is a natural byproduct of the artisanal manufacturing process that birthed them.

Dior’s homage to Indian art elevated its Fall 2023 show beyond spectacle.

Sure, that was part of it — Priyanka Chopra and Rekha don’t just show up at any ol’ runway held in front of the Gateway of India — but the thoughtfulness woven into Dior’s clothing will last even longer than the awe of the show itself.

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