Fashion is no stranger to gate-crashers, which makes it all the more unsurprising that Dior, helmed by creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri, saw an unexpected guest on the runway at its Dior Spring 2021 show in Paris today.
According to WWD, a spokesperson for the climate action group Extinction Rebellion claimed responsibility for the protest. The protester carried a bright yellow banner down the runway — stamped with Extinction Rebellion’s logo — that said “We are all fashion victims.” The woman was thought to be part of the show before many realized that she was indeed gate-crashing.
The fashion house itself frequently uses protest messaging: Just last season, Chiuri featured neon signs that said “Patriarchy = CO2” as part of the show. LVMH’s (Dior’s parent company) head of communication and image, Antoine Arnault, initially told WWD, “I think it was part of the show. It’s so hard to tell these days,” but later rescinded that initial comment, telling the publication that he had been informed that wasn’t the case, calling it “kind of a nonevent.”
According to Fashionista, this is part of Extinction Rebellion’s strategy to employ a decentralized form of organization so there is no clear hierarchy. This is not Extinction Rebellion’s first rodeo, or runway. They’ve frequently gate-crashed shows in the past for political and cultural reasons largely tied to climate change, and last year they protested to cancel London Fashion Week. In its manifesto, the group calls out fashion’s “exploitative and oppressive system” and demands the industry “directly address overproduction and obsolescence.”
LVMH’s chairman and CEO, Sidney Toledano, who also thought the gate-crasher was part of the show, told WWD, “I don’t think we’re destroying the planet. We’re committed to reducing our environmental impact by cutting our carbon dioxide emissions, tracing our raw materials, and so forth. They shouldn’t be targeting us. I think there are industries that pollute much more.” LVMH did hire an environmental development director earlier this year, with future plans to share the company’s sustainable action road map. But Toledano wasn’t upset by the interruption, saying: “It wasn’t nasty or aggressive, but I think her message wasn’t clear. You couldn’t tell if it was part of the show or not.”
Given Extinction Rebellion’s mission, it can be assumed that the slogan is a reference to how the fashion industry contributes to climate change. Even though LVMH said in a 2019 report that they are “reducing CO2 emissions,” the industry overall is still one of the biggest contributors to waste. This is not the first — or likely the last — protest staged against the fashion community.
Teen Vogue has reached out to Extinction Rebellion and Dior for comment.