Maria Grazia Chiuri became tearful as she received France’s most prestigious award, the Legion d’honneur, on Monday.
The Italian designer, who is the first woman creative director at the house of Christian Dior, was given the highest civilian distinction by France’s gender equality minister Marlene Schiappa during a star-studded ceremony following Dior’s fall 2018 couture show in Paris.
“I can’t believe it!” the 55-year-old exclaimed, as she was swarmed by well-wishers – including her husband and two children, photographer Ellen Von Unwerth, former employer Valentino Garavani and Bianca Jagger – at the French fashion house’s Avenue Montaigne headquarters.
Also in attendance at the reception was author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who inspired Chiuri’s iconic “We Should All Be Feminists” slogan T-shirts.
During her speech, the visibly emotional designer urged young women to believe in themselves and follow their instincts.
“Even today I still feel like the curious girl who went to school in Rome to learn fashion design,” she said. “Receiving such an important honour in France, which represents fashion and culture, and from the hands of a woman like Marlene Schiappa, who expresses the most important values for me, is a new emotion.”
Crediting the Fendi sisters, Paola, Anna, Franca, Carla and Alda, for inspiring her to reach her goals and to support other women in fashion and business, she also thanked Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH – the luxury goods firm that owns Christian Dior – for allowing her free rein as creative director.
“Dior is a maison that represents femininity, and for this reason, I believe that my commitment is to make women aware of their potential, and I thank the maison that supports me to give a voice to women and their work. Their commitment can change the world,” Chiuri gushed.
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