A Look Inside The Craft of Thought: Mickalene Thomas and Dior Team Up For SS23 Haute Couture Show

Scenography Haute Couture SS 2023 © Adrien Dirand15

Dior teamed up with contemporary artist Mickalene Thomas for its SS23 Haute Couture show in Paris for the stage showing, celebrating the importance of Black female role models who broke racial barriers and paved the way for others.

The partnership between Dior and Thomas is being helmed by Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dior's artistic director, known for her commitment to championing female artists and designers. This collaboration marks the first time Dior has partnered with a contemporary artist for a Haute Couture show and the second time that Chiuri and Thomas have worked together, with Thomas previously creating a version of Christian Dior's 1947 bar jacket for the 2020 cruise show held in Marrakech, Morocco.

The set of 13 portraits of pioneering Black and mixed-race women was designed and created by Thomas, which took using archival images to create the portraits of Baker and 12 other groundbreaking performers, models, and activists from the 20th century, including Eartha Kitt, Nina Simone, Donyale Luna, Naomi Sims, Ophelia DeVore, Helen Williams, Dorothy Dandridge, Diahann Carroll, Marpessa Dawn, Lena Horne, Josephine Premice, and Hazel Scott.

The Dior collection, designed by Creative Director Maria Grazia Chiuri, was inspired by the life of Josephine Baker, an African-American singer and dancer who left the United States in the 1920s for a successful career in Paris. She joined the French Resistance during World War II and was finally honored as a national hero in 2021 when her name was inscribed at the Pantheon in Paris. The collection aimed to capture Baker's spirit of breaking stereotypes, mixing cultures, and embracing French fashion, and featured a sensual line and silhouette with delicately beaded gowns reminiscent of flapper dresses from the era.

"For Maria Grazia Chiuri, each haute couture défilé is an opportunity to explore the complex thought processes connected to a garment constructed for a body," says the house of Dior. "The couture garment is a body-garment. A body-home. A body-manifesto." Chiuri dedicated the spring haute couture collection to Baker and surrounded the show with a gallery of portraits by Mickalene Thomas, featuring a new pantheon of similarly groundbreaking Black and biracial Hollywood actors and models of the 20th century, with Josephine Baker at its center.

Scenography Haute Couture SS23 © Adrien Dirand