Fine Art and Fashion join forces in celebration of pioneering Black women

Last month, on 23rd January 2023, contemporary African-American artist Mickalene Thomas collaborated with the creative director of Dior, Maria Grazia Chirui, on the scenography for the designer’s latest Dior haute couture show in celebration of pioneering Black women. 

Chiuri has always championed women through collaborative projects and has worked with the likes of Judy Chicago, Eva Jospin and Anna Paparatti. Her recent collaboration with Thomas aims at supporting female contemporary artists and celebrating those who, throughout history, have been radically underappreciated. 

This season’s show consisted of a collection inspired by African-American French performer Josephine Baker (1906-1975) and her 1920s Parisian style, whom Chiuri named an ‘embodiment of modernity.’ 

The set consisted of 13 digital portraits of pioneering Black and mixed-race women who Thomas considers ‘black female role models that broke racial barriers by going against the grain and creating a new platform for many others’. These women included Nina Simone, Baker, Donyake Luna, Naomi Sims and the first African-American Academy award nominee, Dorothy Dandridge, among others. 

Dior S/S 2023 show set, featuring artworks created by Mickalene Thomas (Image credit: Photography by Adrien Dirand, courtesy of Dior)

“These women have broken many barriers in television, film, fashion and social activism,” says Thomas. “It is because of their determination and sacrifices that I am able to make this work and be the artist that I am today.”

The relationship between art and fashion is shifting, where runways are being used as exhibition spaces which play with the borders of participatory art. 

As Harper’s Bazaar described, this show acts as a “platform for creative conversations with artists.” The fashion world seems to be presenting more exciting opportunities for creative expression and inspiring new audiences. 

“What we are seeing is a development in the worlds of art and fashion more broadly, through which any definitive boundaries are being brought into question.” 

 – Hasta Andrews Art Magazine.   

Main image: Dior haute couture S/S 2023, featuring a set by American artist Mickalene Thomas (Image credit: Photography by Adrien Dirard, courtesy of Dior)