Joana Vasconcelos often utilizes techniques traditionally associated with the realm of feminine artisanal savoir-faire, such as sewing, knitting, and crochet.
However, her work for Dior is known for its giant and visually striking nature, creating a stark contrast. Vasconcelos, a Portuguese artist, has exhibited her socially engaged installation, The Bride, at major international exhibitions including the 2005 Venice Biennale. She was also the first woman artist to be showcased at the Château de Versailles in 2012 and received a solo retrospective at the Bilbao Guggenheim in 2018.
Maria Grazia Chiuri aimed to initiate a conversation about Monsieur Dior’s sister, Catherine Dior, who was an influential female figure, known for her strength, independence, and involvement in the French Resistance. She dedicated a significant part of her life to the florist trade. The Creative Director frequently honors Catherine in her collections as a symbol of female liberation.
Joana Vasconcelos, who has a keen interest in the personal and collective stories of women who set examples, regards Catherine Dior as a Valkyrie, a powerful female deity in Norse mythology who served the god Odin. Inspired by the courage and determination of these valiant women, the Portuguese artist is developing a project that celebrates creative freedom.
At the Dior event, Joana Vasconcelos has created a magnificent and impressive work of art that takes up a vast space with its tentacular presence. The composition is free-form, organic, and all-encompassing, created from a variety of materials including fabric, lace, embroidery, and crochet. The artwork also features “islands” where viewers can sit and experience the piece from a different perspective.
In her artistic practice, Joana Vasconcelos often uses fabrics that evoke memories of the past and the enduring value of artisanal traditions. For the Dior event, she specifically chose floral fabrics that were inspired by the House’s archives, paying tribute to Miss Dior’s love of flowers and nature, which was also dear to the founding-couturier.
This connection of places, times, and cultures reveals the inherent beauty of femininity and feminism, which are themes that punctuate both Vasconcelos’ and Maria Grazia Chiuri’s work. In this way, the work of art becomes a reactivation of emotions and a celebration of the constantly renewed interweaving of these themes.