World’s First Feminist Deck 40 Years Ago, Now It’s Inspired Dior’s Latest Resort Show
A skeleton, huddled in a fetal position, encircled by a molting snake decorates the opening look of Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Dior Resort collection. Picked out in colorful threads at Dior’s Paris ateliers, the original image was drawn almost 40 years ago—it’s the Death card in the Motherpeace feminist tarot deck. An unlikely, inauspicious image for a fashion show, even one set in the wilds of the Santa Monica Mountains? Not according to Karen Vogel, who cocreated Motherpeace Tarot with Vicki Noble in the late ’70s. In fact, Chiuri’s choice of the Death card is downright uncanny. “It’s not necessarily about physical death,” says Vogel. “[It’s about] the beauty of the shedding of the skin that a snake does, that we can transform our lives. It’s about transformation and renewal that’s really beneficial.” An apter visual metaphor for Chiuri, who has set off on her own at Dior after working alongside Pierpaolo Piccioli for nearly three decades, is hard to conjure.
It was Noble’s book Shakti Woman that led the designer to Motherpeace several weeks before the May show. “In Shakti Woman,” Chiuri explained at a preview, “Vicki wrote that women have to be in contact with their real nature, not let others define us. We have to work so we can define [ourselves] alone, and that was very interesting for me.” Chiuri’s assistant reached out via email in early April, on what happened to be the eve of Noble’s 70th birthday. But unbeknownst to any of them, a connection had already been made. Noble had been using images of Dior’s Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie–inspired “We Should All Be Feminists” T-shirts in her collages. “After they emailed, I went back to see the first time I did that, and it was New Year’s Day, and it was my oracle for the year. Right in the middle is the ‘Feminists’ T-shirt. I got all excited and wrote back about all this magical stuff going on in the background.”
Noble and Vogel were guests of Chiuri at the Resort presentation. It was the first fashion show for both of them. More significantly, it’s the only time they’ve allowed anyone to touch their original designs. “We’ve guarded Motherpeace with our lives,” says Noble. No, they’ve never been tempted to merchandise the images, despite their beauty. “We’re not really business-y that way,” Noble continues. “On the other hand, it does seem like a lacuna that’s now being addressed.” Vogel’s mother had a textile business in New York City, so the show experience was particularly poignant for her. “It’s funny because my life has gone so far from that, to have it come back around, I know how it would have pleased her. She might’ve pulled some strings somewhere; she was a weaver, too.” They’re both happy that the show and the magazine editorials and ads that will follow will help get their philosophy out. “To overdramatize,” Noble says, “the matriarchy is the only hope for us [as a species], that we somehow bring women back into the center.”