Confirmed: Maria Grazia Chiuri Is The New Artistic Director of Dior

She becomes the French fashion house's first female lead

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After months of rumours and an almost-confirmation just weeks ago, Dior has confirmed that Maria Grazia Chiuri has been appointed as its new Artistic Director.

She succeeds Raf Simons, who departed the brand in October 2015 citing 'personal reasons' following three years at the helm.

Maria Grazia Chiuri (centre) at the 2016 Met Gala
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Chiuri leaves her position as co-Creative Director at Valentino, a role she has held alongside her creative partner of 20 years Pierpaolo Piccioli since 2008, though both have worked at the house in various guises since 1999. 

Piccioli remains sole Creative Director at Valentino.

Maria Grazia Chiuri with Keira Knightley, James Righton and Pierpaolo Piccioli
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At Dior, she will be responsible for women's haute couture, ready-to-wear and accessory collections. She will show her first ready-to-wear collection on September 30, during Paris Fashion Week.

On Wednesday night she showed a final Valentino collection inspired by Shakespeare and the Elizabethan era.

Sidney Toledano, CEO of Christian Dior Couture, commented that is was Chiuri's deep understanding of women that made her perfect for the job.

'To dress a woman is more important than ever today. The evolution of women is a special evolution and her vision and how she wants to transform it is really interesting,' he told BoF. 'Because she's a woman and she has a different perspective on what she is going to do and it played an important part. I was looking for somebody that was deeply understanding the needs of a woman of today and tomorrow globally.'

Who is Maria Grazia Chiuri?

She studied fashion design at the Istituto Europep di Design in Rome in the early Eighties, where she first met creative partner Pierpaolo Piccioli.

In 1989 she was appointed as a designer at Fendi, and quickly enlisted Piccioli to work alongside her in the accessories department. There they launched the iconic Fendi Baguette bag (made famous by Sex And The City), which propelled the Italian brand into the big leagues and became one of the first 'It bags'. 

Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli pictured in July 2016

In 1999 the pair were poached by Valentino, where they worked alongside founder Valentino Garavani to revamp the brand's accessories. 

In 2003 they were asked to design the brand's Red diffusion line, before taking the helm of the house in 2008 following Garavani's retirement.

Valentino's 'Rockstud' shoes

Together they have been credited with introducing a whimsical romanticism with their breathtaking evening wear and reinvigorating the famed brand with their cult-status accessories, such as the 'Rockstud' shoes and bags.

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