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Fashion success through reinvention

Sidney Toledano is "very pleased". The spectacular fashion show he has just been watching has gone well.

Maria Grazia Chiuri

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The event, staged last September in a vast hall in the grounds of the Musee Rodin in Paris, featured designs by Maria Grazia Chiuri, the new artistic director of Christian Dior, the fashion house run by Mr Toledano.Ms Chiuri is the first woman to be the creative head at Dior.The time is right for change, says Mr Toledano. "Who can understand better than a woman the needs of a woman, and express [her] identity today… in the West, in China, wherever in the world?" he says.Ms Chiuri's show, which was well received by critics, displayed a feminist tone, including a T-shirt with a slogan that read "We Should All Be Feminists".
In 2017, the House of Dior celebrates its 70th anniversary. In an industry where the new is all-important, keeping brands fresh over the long term is tricky. But there are probably few people who know as much about how to do this as Sidney Toledano, who has run Dior since the 1990s.He grew up in Casablanca in Morocco, where one of his closest friends was Joseph Ettedgui, who later went on to establish the successful fashion retail chain, Joseph, in the UK.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Mr Toledano recalls, Casablanca's lifestyle attracted a cosmopolitan crowd from Europe and the US. "I grew up seeing people very well dressed, and this is one reason why I like fashion."It was about feeling good - to have the right shirt, to have the right pair of jeans," he says. "Joseph and many of my friends had the same culture."Despite his interest in fashion, Mr Toledano ended up training as an engineer. He found the disciplines he learnt during his studies helpful in his later career.But it was not until he went to work for the French footwear business Kickers that he found his true vocation. The brand built a big following in the youth market for its boots and shoes soon after it was founded in 1970.

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