March 31, 2023
On Thursday, Mumbai’s iconic Gateway of India was the site of an unusual event: its grand arches were the backdrop for Dior’s Pre-Fall 2023 fashion show. The collection featured models strutting past floral decorations to the music of tabla virtuoso Anuradha Pal in rani pink, acid yellow, and multicolored Madras-checkered silhouettes “inspired” by Indian tunics and saris. The French luxury house credited its collection as a collaboration between current Dior artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri and Chanakya International, an Indian textile craft atelier that has been the brand’s source of surface embroidery for nearly 30 years.
But this acknowledgment is perhaps decades too late in its verbalization. Since Dior’s founding in 1946, its artistic directors have sought out Indian culture, design, and craft — often without giving due credit. While some in the fashion world are applauding Dior’s recent show, recent coverage often ignores the brand’s history of inequitable exchange with India and its artisans.