For spring 2018, Dior designer Maria Grazia Chiuri continued to champion feminism, taking inspiration from American art historian Linda Nochlin for its opening look, a striped top featuring the phrase “Why have there been no great women artists?” The phrase references Nochlin’s 1971 essay of the same name, which first appeared in Art News in 1971.
In the essay, Nochlin argued that attempting to cite great women artists, “tacitly reinforce its negative implications.” She writes that if women had achieved the same status of men, there would be no reason for feminism, adding “There are no women equivalents for Michelangelo or Rembrandt, Delacroix or Cézanne, Picasso or Matisse, or even, in very recent times, for de Kooning or Warhol, any more than there are Black American equivalents for the same.”
She adds, “If there actually were large numbers of ‘hidden’ great women artists, or if there really should be different standards for women’s art as opposed to men’s—and one can’t have it both ways—then what are the feminists fighting for?”
While acknowledging there aren’t great women artists, Nochlin does a deep dive on some of the historical dynamics impeding women and aiding men related to cultural mores, class and race among other issues, writing, “Women did not have the good fortune to be born white, preferably middle class and, above all, male. The fault, dear brothers, lies not in our stars, our hormones, our menstrual cycles or our empty internal spaces, but in our institutions and our education—education understood to include everything that happens to us from the moment we enter this world of meaningful symbols, signs and signals.”
There’s much more than can be condensed here, but it’s an excellent essay worthy of a read.
Meanwhile, back in Paris….it should be noted while Diors’s “We should all be feminists” t-shirt from the spring 2017 collection was widely embraced, not everyone likes the idea of Dior, a massive global corporation led by men, dipping their toes into feminism in the name of profitability.
It’s tricky of course because designer Chiuri is the label’s first female designer ever, and she views herself as a feminist. One could argue even if done in the name of profit, if she can open people’s eyes on why disparity exists, that’s not a bad thing.
Check out the Nochli t-shirt along with the top looks from the collection below.