Ahead of the Dior Cruise 2021 show in Puglia, Pietro Beccari tells Vogue Business why the brand is pushing ahead with the traditional fashion calendar.
By guest author Lucy Maguire from Vogue Business
Christian Dior Couture CEO Pietro Beccari defended the all-white casting of the brand’s earlier couture offering ahead of Wednesday’s Cruise 2021 show, and says the luxury house is chasing more than 20 million social media views.
Creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri’s last collection displayed as a film Le Mythe Dior, the first womenswear presentation after the acceleration of the Black Lives Matter movement, was widely criticised for its all-white model casting. But Beccari insisted diversity has always been and remains important to the designer and the house. Following Couture, Dior Men creative director Kim Jones collaborated with Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo on his SS21 collection, presented digitally in a film.
“I think [couture] was a precise stylistic choice for which Maria Grazia can not be condemned,” he says. “Throughout her career, Maria Grazia has supported diversity. So I think she was unfairly attacked about that. She has always worked with diverse casting,” he says.
Dior’s Cruise 2021 collection, made up of 90 looks, will be presented live to a near-empty venue in Lecce, Puglia after Beccari made the decision to postpone, not cancel, the show from 27 May. That decision was “against forecasts and recommendations” but made in part because of Dior’s commitments to suppliers in Italy and France, and consumer demand. Only executives, friends of Chiuri and the artisans who made the collection will be present.
“The real audience is the 20 million people at home,” says Beccari. “If you ask yourself why you invest so much money and time in your show it is for those watching at home and not really for the 1000 lucky ones there.”
The brand will live stream the show on its own site, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Bilibili, Tencent and leading fashion magazine websites. There will be accompanying activations across TikTok, plus Weibo and WeChat in China. On Wednesday, ahead of the show, Beccari was confident that like the recent Dior Men and Couture collections, (which garnered 23 million and 17 million views respectively) the Cruise show would attract more than 20 million viewers.
That’s far ahead of social media views of prior Dior physical catwalk shows, according to Launchmetrics. While topping the leaderboard ahead of Chanel and Off-White, for Autumn/Winter 2020, Dior’s posts about its show gained 4.2 million views.
Other brands, including Jacquemus, Etro and Dolce & Gabbana, returned to physical shows last week in Paris and Milan respectively with influencers and some press in attendance. But Dior’s move to host a high-scale physical cruise show is at odds with other luxury houses that have reconsidered its role in the wake of the pandemic. Louis Vuitton and Chanel presented cruise collections for SS21 with short films instead of their usual blockbuster shows. Gucci reduced shows to twice a year and will no longer create cruise collections. Marc Jacobs, Saint Laurent and others have eschewed the former fashion calendar to show on their own terms. Becarri says Dior will continue to show cruise and is already working on the next cruise collection.
A one-size-fits-all model for change in the industry is not the way forward, Beccari says. Dior has no intention of altering its current calendar when there is such high consumer demand. Dior owner LVMH recorded revenue of EUR 10.6 billion for the first quarter of 2020, down 15 % compared to the same period in 2019, but added in its recent earnings that Dior showed “momentum and resilience”. Overall, luxury fashion’s rebound, post-pandemic, has been uneven.
“We have hundreds of thousands of fashionistas waiting for the latest product in the store,” he says. “That’s our business model and I cannot change it.”
Amid concerns over the fashion calendar, the future of digital versus physical shows and diversity in the industry, Beccari saw Wednesday’s show as a turning point for the brand after a difficult few months. “We wanted to be proactive and try to show signs of a comeback and I think we are managing to do so.”