Today, Dior revealed the appointment of its first woman creative director in its entire 70-year-history, Maria Grazia Chiuri. The announcement follows her final couture collection for Valentino, where she was co-creative director of the brand for 8 years with partner Pierpaolo Piccioli after having climbed her way up the ranks for another 9 years at the company previously.
The news is a big deal on many levels. First and foremost, this will be the first time in half a century we've seen this many women hold top spots at Paris's most storied houses, with Phoebe Philo in her longtime role at Céline, Clare Waight Keller at Chloé and Lanvin recently hiring Bouchra Jarrar.
'It is a great honor to be joining the house of Dior; I measure the tremendous responsibility of being the first woman in charge of the creation in a house so deeply rooted in the pure expression of femininity,' Chiuri said in a statement. 'The endless wealth of its heritage continues to be a constant source of inspiration for fashion and I cannot wait to express my own vision. I am extremely grateful to Mr Arnault and Mr Toledano for the trust they have placed in me.' Here, we predict what her appointment might mean for fashion.
1) A return to unquestionable femininity
In the midst of all of fashion's talk of gender fluidity, streetwear and androgyny, there's also been a strong case for unapologetic prettiness running through the catwalks lately. And it's largely women like Maria Grazia Chiuri and Sarah Burton who have been leading the charge with aw16 collections that explored how femininity can be powerful.
Remember, these are the people who kitted out ladylike ballet pumps in heavy metal with Valentino's ridiculously popular rockstud series and turned ballerinas into punks for the brand's autumn/winter 16 collection. They became famous for working with the girliest of tropes — tulle, chiffon and lace, for example — and making them look pretty and progressive.
In a statement Sidney Toledano, president and CEO of Christian Dior couture, described Maria's 'vision for women' as 'both sensual and poetic.' While Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH called it 'modern and elegant.' Women who haven't necessarily found themselves in Vetements' conceptual statements or Gucci's skewed maximalism might have a new movement to get excited about.
2) New additions to your arsenal of trophy shoes
Those aforementioned rockstud shoes? They helped Valentino nearly double its profits at the peak of their popularity in 2013, back when the embellished kitten heels were universally declared 'the shoes of the stars' (A-list actresses like Emma Stone, Reese Witherspoon and Anne Hathaway and major fashion plates including Alexa Chung, Giovanna Battaglia and The Blonde Salad's Chiara Ferragni all regularly wore them).
Keep in mind, Valentino first poached Maria and Pierpaolo from Fendi to design its accessories. They know how to turn out a top-selling shoe and bag.
3) A sense of humour
Fashion has become awfully serious lately. And with good reason when you take into account the legitimate challenges facing the industry right now, from economic volatility to digital disruption. That said, the idea of the woman who played a part in Derek Zoolander owning a Paris runway, taking the reigns at Dior is kind of thrilling. Can we get an Edina and Patsy cameo please?
4) An end to fashion's revolving door?
Technically, the industry's game of creative director musical chairs began with Dior, when John Galliano famously left after a very public meltdown in 2011. This prompted five years of high-profile resignations, firings and hirings at not only Dior, but Saint Laurent, Gucci, Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton, the list goes on and on.
With the appointment of Maria at Dior (she follows Raf Simons, who followed Bill Gaytten, who served as interim creative director after Galliano), there are now no more vacant seats left to fill.
5) More women leading the top women's fashion houses
Historically, men have outnumbered women in fashion's elite club of critically revered designers. For every Rei Kawakubo, Miuccia Prada and Phoebe Philo, there are easily five or more male counterparts. It's one of the great ironies of women's wear that it's the men who tend to become most powerful and famous (Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Gianni Versace, Giorgio Armani, Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen, you get the idea.)
But that could potentially change now that Paris has Maria, Phoebe, Clare, and Bouchra at Dior, Céline, Chloé and Lanvin respectively. Could this be the beginning of a new era in which women creatives actually lead women's fashion? Let's hope.