Dior hosts a chic Mexican-inspired rodeo in Chantilly
Everything came together to make Christian Dior's 2019 cruise collection an unforgettable experience: the sumptuous setting of the Domaine de Chantilly, the green, bucolic landscape, an equestrian demonstration by female torero Marie Sara. The runway, which took place on Friday night in the Domaine's Great Stables, will be remembered for its particular beauty, having unveiled one of the most elegant collections designed by creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri under a deluge.
Getting 800 guests 50 kilometers out of Paris on a Friday night in the midst of a transport strike was no mean feat. The show was programed for 8 p.m. but a convoy of limousines was still crawling in at 9 p.m., dropping guests off one by one, and before the bleachers around the partially covered runway set up in the dressage arena had filled up completely, a storm had blown in and looked set to grow throughout the night.
Outside the ring, eight "escaramuzas", traditional female horseriders from Mexico, were perched on white horses, waiting to make their entrance. Soaked to the skin in their long elegant Dior dresses embroidered with black, they were afforded some protection by large sombreros. At 9 p.m. they gracefully trotted into the ring to the strains of an orchestra.
The end of this equestrian demonstration signaled the beginning of the runway show, with models braving the driving rain and the treacherous catwalk, which had transformed into a slippery wooden gauntlet hemmed in by umbrellas. Thankfully, they were wearing lace-up rubber boots and their long ponytails were protected by riding helmets or straw gaucho hats designed by famous milliner Stephen Jones.
Ultimately, it turned out that a storm was the perfect way to highlight the hardened confidence of Maria Grazia Chiuri's version of the Dior woman, with models proudly bearing the word "Diorodeo" on the backs of their leather jackets. Indeed, the designer took her inspiration from the "escaramuzas" and, in particular, from the "Charreada" rodeo, where these female riders take to the saddle in their traditional Mexican petticoat dresses, while also mixing in the savoir-faire of Dior's ateliers and its unique Parisian touch.
It was a multifaceted and comprehensive collection from the outset, alternating maxi skirts and ultra-mini numbers, masculine suits worn with white blouses and slim black ties, and glamorous hyper feminine outfits where the spirit of Dior's founder was apparent in the little details. The influence of the iconic Bar jacket, in an updated form, could be seen throughout.
At times the equestrian vibe took over, as in the case of a pair of long culottes which fell to the model's ankles as part of a beige cotton suit, or through the leather saddle-shaped bustiers, which were strapped at the back. A white version of this bustier was used to liven up a delicate tulle toile-de-Jouy-print skirt, while a black version did the same for a white cotton blouse and skirt set.
Maria Grazia Chiuri managed to avoid the temptation of indulging in exotic folklore, employing references to these Mexican amazons with respect and finesse. These influences were apparent in the bright colors of the embroideries, for example, or the braiding which decorated the long cotton dresses, black on white or vice versa. They also came through in the trims of bodices and in wild animal patterns which featured tigers and snakes, replacing the usually bucolic landscapes of the toile de Jouy, which was used to trim coats, jackets, trousers and shorts.
The Mexican inspiration was particularly visible in the flared frilly dresses and the long petticoat skirts snatched in at the waist by large belts which were either black leather or multicolored. It also came through in the typical South American black and white striped rugs which were used to make skirts and jackets, not to mention in the voluminous silhouettes which were filled out by pleats, tulle and lace.
Ultimately, the rain did not ruin the party, as pointed out with a smile by the new CEO of Christian Dior, Pietro Beccari: "the show was all the more poetic for it," he declared. As the audience spilled out of the arena under the downpour and filtered into the adjacent building where a party awaited them, one could pick out Paris Jackson and Isabelle Adjani in the crowd, as well as the head of LVMH Bernard Arnault, owner of Christian Dior Couture, along with his daughter Delphine, director and executive vice president of Louis Vuitton. A number of other managers from the group were also in attendance, including managing director Toni Belloni and Sidney Toledano who, having led Dior, is now head of the LVMH Fashion Group.
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