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5 Women in Dior SS17 on What Femininity Means to Them

Hear from a neurologist, a chef, two models and Leandra

03.31.17
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In partnership with Dior.

Everyone writes their own definitions in 2017. What it means to be a designer, an artist, a feminist — the list goes on — is no longer static, book-bound and shelved, but instead open for multiple interpretations. When Maria Grazia Chiuri took over as Dior’s first-ever female artistic director, that, too, was a blank canvas, an open space to sketch and paint multiple versions of what her Dior women looked like.

“The message, really, is that there is not one kind of woman,” she told Vogue.com. That speaks to reality; women don’t need to follow prescriptive guidelines.

“I strive to be attentive and open to the world and to create fashion that resembles the women of today,” Grazia Chiuri said of her first collection. “Fashion that corresponds to their changing needs, freed from the stereotypical categories of ‘masculine/feminine,’ ‘young/not so young,’ ‘reason/emotion.’”

In partnership with the house of Dior, we dressed five women “of today” in Dior Spring Summer 2017. Below, meet a neurologist, a chef, two models and the founder of this website, all of whom challenge strict definitions, be it in terms of career or style or what “feminine” means. They do this so that they can feel their most comfortable, their most powerful. So that they can just BE.

Indya Moore, model and actor

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Tell me about your job, and how that contributes (or doesn’t contribute) to your identity.

As a model, it’s about my ability to embody the “spirit” of the product I am representing so that others are able to connect to it. As an actor, I have to familiarize myself with the character in order to carry out their identity. I must empathize with them in order to make their story real.

Whenever an assignment expands my values or experience, I feel like my job contributes to my identity. I feel a sense of validation from character roles I can relate to. The idea that a version of me exists in someone else’s mind is very affirming as a woman of trans experience.

How do your strength and femininity correlate?

My strength compliments my femininity because I understand that I own my body and who I am. As a woman, I have to be strong. Femininity can be perceived as weakness, vulnerability or submission. My femininity defines my strength; it has always forced me to stand up for my best interests.

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How did each of the outfits that you wore for this photo shoot make you feel?

Royal. I felt like I could express any side of my identity and it wouldn’t compete with my femininity. I felt free, able and elegant, and I appreciated exercising the dynamic of expressing confidence and comfort with myself. It made me feel powerful.

Indya Moore wearing Dior skirt and jewelry (styled with a J.Crew sweater and Magnetic Midnight crown)


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Dr. Vivian Chin, Neurologist

Tell me about your job, and how that contributes (or doesn’t contribute) to your identity.

I am a board-certified neurologist and an Assistant Professor of Neurology at Columbia University Medical Center. I have a particular interest in treating patients with neuromuscular disorders. My profession is an integral part of who I am, largely because I’ve spent so many hours learning and training. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t being or trying to become a doctor. The lengthy pursuit of this profession has shaped my values and views about the world, the body and myself.

How do your strength and femininity correlate?

There’s a belief that femininity is generally defined by a series of traits: compassion, sensitivity, empathy and the ability to nurture. To me, these are all qualities that obviously make a person (and a doctor) better. If I accept this definition, it’s easy to see the correlation between strength and femininity; one derives its value from the other. To be feminine is to be stronger. To be strong is to be feminine. I feel strongest when my patients place their trust in me.

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How do you define power? Do you consider yourself a powerful person?

Power is the ability to effect change in a meaningful way, and in that respect, I can be powerful at times. If I can help one person a day be a better version of herself, it’s a powerful thing.

How do you define feminism in 2017?

The belief in equality, regardless of sex or gender. It embodies strength and confidence in the female identity, whether you are a woman, a man or a transgender person. It means stripping away all negative connotations from the terms “feminine” and “masculine” and embracing the authentic self without fear of discrimination.

Dr. Vivian Chin wearing Dior pants, top, shirt, jewelry and handbag


Melina DiMarco, Model & App Founder

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Tell me about your job, and how that contributes (or doesn’t contribute) to your identity?

The quick answer to this question is: I’m a model. The not-so-quick explanation is that I am a human being, and feel it is my job to create with a social conscience. I like to tell stories through my work. I thrive on the creative process and that is where modeling and I get along. There are moments where I feel disconnected from the industry. Until all shapes, sizes, colors, heights, ages and genders are represented fully, we have a problem. When we begin to embrace diversity, we start seeing one another as human beings rather than job titles.

I also founded an app called nood. It’s a photo-editing application that uses body-positive stickers to undermine censorship of the female form on social media. It allows women to represent their bodies on their own terms. That is so important.

How do you define power? Do you consider yourself a powerful person?

My definition of power is choice. Without choice, we have no power. As a model, my power lies within the work I choose to create.

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How do you define feminism in 2017?

Equality. This seems obvious and almost unnecessary to state, but even in 2017, it’s a word that needs repeating. Feminism isn’t about putting down another gender. It’s simply about equality.

How did each of the outfits that you wore for this photo shoot make you feel?

E M P O W E R E D.

There was a sense of ownership that the clothes provided. From what I saw, each participant shared a unique connection with their outfit and it definitely showed. During our fitting, we cycled through many of the same pieces, but the ones we ended up with felt as if they highlighted our individual qualities. That’s about as good as it gets.

Melina DiMarco wearing Dior shorts, jacket, jewelry, hat and shoes (styled with a J.Crew sweater)


Leandra Medine, Founder and CEO of Man Repeller

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Tell me about your job, and how that contributes (or doesn’t contribute) to your identity?

I founded Man Repeller, and pretty much operate as creative director overseeing all creative and editorial. My job contributes very literally to my identity, because it’s a big piece of who I am: very visually and creatively driven; in pursuit of the truth and a really good, heart-warming story.

How do your strength and femininity correlate?

They are one and the same. There’s this frustrating narrative that suggests in order to be a strong or powerful woman, you have to act like a man, but that’s a really problematic expectation because we are not men. The further we try to remove ourselves from ourselves — the harder we resist or try to act “strong” to prove a point — the more challenging our lives become. We lose ourselves and can’t understand why we’re not finding balance while suspended in free-range, tense air.

How do you define power? Do you consider yourself a powerful person?

Power is knowing who you are, respecting who you are and doing what’s good for you based on those accords. I really do feel the most powerful when I catch myself in the throes of negative self-talk and reel it in, flip the narrative on its head and say, “Hey, it’s okay to feel shitty right now. Don’t push it away, don’t try to resist. It will change by itself. All you have to do right now and is take a deep breath.”

How do you define feminism in 2017?

As humanism.

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How does what you wear alter or enhance the way you feel on a given day?

So much of my identity is informed by the way I choose to dress. Clothing is never just about looking (or even feeling) good. It’s about getting to the truth or swaying really far from it. The mood-changing properties of a pair of profoundly escapist shoes, or your favorite dress, are remarkable. In this look, I felt extravagant, elegant — enough like myself to believe I am those things, but also far enough away to actually aspire toward, I guess, myself.

How do you express yourself?

I am a human game of whack-a-mole when it comes to expression in that no matter how hard I try to suppress it; it always comes out somewhere. Sometimes it’s through clothes, sometimes voice recordings, sometimes writing, sometimes (rarely), cooking. I am a non-denominational expresser!

What’s the one thing you want someone to ask you, and what’s the answer?

“How does your marriage support you?”

No one wants to talk about this important human connection anymore! We’re expected to be superwoman machines who don’t need anything from anyone, but the thing about being human is that independent of gender, we need each other to survive. It’s almost becoming incorrect to say something like, “I wouldn’t be able to do this without my husband,” but I really do feel that way. He’s a bed and a rock and a human weekend for me.

Leandra Medine wearing Dior dress


Angie Mar, Executive Chef and Owner of Beatrice Inn

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Tell me about your job, and how that contributes (or doesn’t contribute) to your identity?

I’m fortunate in that my career is all about the expression of who I am. Being a chef is as much about the business aspect of my industry (food and labor costs, legality) as the creative side. Cooking allows me to express my creativity. It’s such a privilege to be able to feed others.

What makes you feel strongest?

In times of growth or evolution. Whether it’s creative growth, like writing a menu and expanding my business, or personal growth, I find that this is when I’m most focused and strong. Progression is key.

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How do you define power? Do you consider yourself a powerful person?

There is power and then there is empowerment. I have always been an advocate of empowering myself as well as the people around me. To empower someone to grow and be ready to take the next step, all while setting them up for success, is the greatest feeling. Someone very special took me under his wing once. He guided me to the next step, and then the next one after that. If I can pay that forward, then my job is done.

How do you define feminism in 2017?

For me, modern day feminism is about being yourself. Unapologetically, organically, yourself. I believe that women need to support each other and bring each other up.

How does what you wear alter or enhance the way you feel on a given day?

I’ve always felt there is a strong correlation between food and fashion. I don’t cook to placate anyone’s palette, or satisfy a demographic that doesn’t work at my restaurant. I cook the food that I believe in, the food that makes me feel good and expresses my vision. It’s the same with the clothes I choose to wear; I dress for me. What makes me feel confident and sexy and bold? I love a balance of masculinity and femininity in my style of cooking and my wardrobe. I’m a little rock and roll, a little hip hop and lot of classic. The black tulle skirt was one of those beautiful pieces that I wanted to live in.

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Angie Mar wearing Dior skirt, t-shirt and shoes (styled with Topshop socks and Magnetic Midnight crown)

Follow Indya Moore on Instagram @indyamoore, Melina DiMarco @melinadimarco and @nood.life, and Angie Mar @angiekmar and @beatrice_inn. Special thanks to The Russian Tea Room, which you can follow on Instagram @russiantearoom.

Photos by Tory Rust; follow her on Instagram @toryrust. Makeup by Ricky Wilson; follow him on Instagram @wilsonricky.

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  • Snap

    beautiful EVERYTHING here – love it all! but I can’t believe that in this day and age we’re still blurring out nipples Leandra! We’re all equal!

    • Leandra Medine

      Hey, of course we’re equal! But I don’t think I understand the correlation between my not wanting to have my nipples exposed and equalityyyyyyyyyy.

      • Snap

        #freethenipple I suppose… seems like you went out of your way to airbrush. thought you were a ‘free’ woman 🙂 anyway, love your page! keep fighting the good fight!

        • Leandra Medine

          Thanks for the encouragement! Please keep hanging out with us. But re: being a free woman, I do consider myself a member of the freedom club, but the way I define that is not necessarily by turning on their heads ALL the norms we have heretofore been conditioned to swallow. If I’m more comfortable nipples concealed and operate based on that accord feels freer to me than making a point simply to make it even if it isn’t necessarily true to who I am. If and when I do feel like letting them hang out (which does happen), I do it! Does this make sense? Am I over-intellectualizing your comment?

          • Snap

            Leandra, I love you! Makes perfect sense! Don’t ever change!!! 😍😊

  • Patty Carnevale

    I want to make this story into some sort of desk calendar to remind me how to LIVE–and duh also so I can look at these incredible images all day long. WELL DONE.

  • Amelia Diamond

    Swear to G this shoot was energizing because the women were so COOL!!! Miss this day!

  • The point of the design is missed on you by blurring out your nipples. If you’re not comfortable don’t wear that ! You negate the entire point of this article.
    Jandrew
    Dress The Part
    http://jandrewspeaks.com

    • sleepingonsnow

      Don’t police women’s bodies

  • Anna Gregorash

    As a girl who loves fashion and journalism, and is going through body insecurities (thanks middle school), I just want to tell you how much your blog has helped me. I used to be chastised by peers for being feminine, and was told that I couldn’t be a feminist if I was feminine, which I soon learned was complete and utter bull. You guys have even inspired me to start writing, and I think I may even start a blog in the near future. I love you guys and thank you.
    P.S. I cannot get over how great you all look in this! Girl power!

    • Amelia Diamond

      I know this is cheesy but I swear it: you the readers and commenters inspire US! Thank you for this comment, keep writing and effff yea (trying not to curse around dior) girl power!

    • Yes!! It really gets to me when people claim that wearing makeup or liking traditionally feminine things is “anti-feminist.” Clearly, there is no logic in such remarks… It just goes to show how much gender norms have been engrained in society, that in order for us to be proud of being a woman, we have to be a stereotypical man (emphasis on stereotypical)… Hope to see you blog in the future! 🙂

      P.S. Wish I was wearing Dior right now.

  • Harling Ross

    This shoot and these words are happy juice for my brain.

  • Jessica

    hmmmm exactly how is a see-through corset dress for size 0-2 emporwering. i find that what chiuri talks and what she designs are two different things entirely. one t-shirt that says feminist doesn’t convince me.