The cruise collection will show at the Piazza del Duomo in Lecce on July 22

Additional reporting by Andrea Saadan

Dior announced yesterday that it would stage what is likely to be the first major fashion show since the coronavirus outbreak next month—albeit with only "friends and family" there to witness the spectacle live.

Designer Maria Grazia Chiuri said the world was hungry for clothes with "magic and emotion" and that luxury labels owed it to the artists and artisans who relied on them for a living to try to get back to normal as soon as possible. The cruise collection show—which was to have taken place in May—will be held in the baroque splendour of the Piazza del Duomo in Lecce on July 22.

The Italian designer said she was dedicating the show, which she said will have a more "natural and rural" feel to its flower motifs, to her late father who was born in the Apulia region in the heel of Italy. This is one of the first times that Dior will hold a show in Italy, specifically in the Puglia region, which was badly hit by the crisis.  

Chiuri, the first women to lead the fabled French fashion house, said that her father "taught me to believe in myself, and during difficult times, to believe in the future." Which also meant trying to protect the army of artisans who work for Dior.

"When we talk about sustainability we must not forget also the jobs of the workers," Chiuri said in a frank online press conference, a rarity in the highly-controlled fashion world.

"We care about the work and we take care of the workers, I am one myself... and we want to work in the best way." 

“During this pandemic day by day, you reinvent yourself. Everything is new for everybody,” Chiuri added.

"For me, fashion is not only about clothes, it’s more. I want to propose different looks, not only one ... My favourite part is the dialogue with the artisans. I want to send a message to the young generation—they can do something with what they have there. They can work and use what we have around."

(Related: Christian Dior Teams Up With Vespa To Launch A Luxury Scooter And Other Accessories)

'Nothing beats live show'

Dior also strongly signalled that it would not join rivals Gucci and Saint Laurent in their decision to opt out of participating in Paris fashion week every year in order to follow their "own creative rhythm". Several other brands have also called for a major overhaul of the frantic fashion calendar.

But Dior CEO Pietro Beccari said it would stick with Paris fashion week and made an impassioned defence of live catwalk shows. He said nothing beats "seeing and feeling" the clothes and the brand wants to "send a message of support, hope, optimism and rebirth after this period of difficulty".

"Nothing carries emotion more than a real fashion show. A live performance is like nothing else, the electricity that we feel in that creative moment, the deadline, the adrenaline.

"That is why we wanted to do a live fashion show and why we believe there will always be a place for a live show," Beccari added. 

“We don’t do politics but we can take a stand. The house was founded after the war, on the ruins of it. We want to give that emotion.”

While Dior's Paris haute couture week show in early July would not be live, he said, it would have "another big surprise". Rather than turn everything upside down, Beccari said Dior "decided to take a pragmatic approach to the crisis and live day by day.

"When I see countries like China who came out of the crisis early, I feel people really want to restart the things they were doing before, and that is the approach we take.