Maria Grazia Chirui has been appointed creative director at Christian Dior.

Maria Grazia Chiuri with Pierpaolo Piccioli

Maria Grazia Chiuri with Pierpaolo Piccioli

The former Valentino co-designer - whose departure at the fashion house was confirmed on Thursday (07.07.16) - will be the first woman to take the position following months of speculation as to who would take over from Raf Simons, who left Dior last October after three years.

Martia will begin work as artistic director of women's haute couture, ready-to-wear and accessory collections next week, with her first show slated for September 30, and she is "honoured" to be joining the prestigious fashion house.

She said in a statement: "It is a great honour to be joining the house of Dior.

"I measure the tremendous responsibility of being the first woman in charge of the creation in a house so deeply rooted in the pure expression of femininity.

"The endless wealth of its heritage continues to be a constant source of inspiration for fashion, and I cannot wait to express my own vision."

And Dior bosses are equally delighted by her appointment.

Sidney Toledano, president and CEO of Christian Dior Couture, said: "I am thrilled to welcome Maria Grazia Chiuri in the house of Christian Dior.

"Her vision of women, both sensual and poetic, resonates with that of Monsieur Dior. Her expertise in the art of couture and her passion for craftsmanship will be in perfect harmony with the exceptional know-how of our ateliers."

Pierpaolo Piccioli will remain at Valentino as the sole creative director.

Raf announced last year he was stepping down from his role at the French fashion house in order to focus on "other interests."

He said at the time: "It is after careful and long consideration that I have decided to leave my position as creative director of Christian Dior's women's collection. It is a decision based entirely and equally on my desire to focus on other interests in my life, including my own brand, and the passions that drive me outside my work."

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