Step back in time and enjoy the best moments from the Dior Cruise 2018 show in Los Angeles.
Dior’s new artistic director, Maria Grazia Chiuri, has staged her first cruise show for the fashion house in Upper Las Virgenes Canyon Open Space Preserve, nearly 3,000 acres of land full of rocks, trees and cacti.
An hour’s drive from LA – but light years away from freeways and movie execs – it welcomed about 800 guests including Rihanna, Miranda Kerr and Solange Knowles for the show on Thursday. They sat under canvas tents, on benches with blankets, woven raffia mats under foot.
The western heritage of the open plain proved irresistible. Models wore the caballero hats, ponchos, cowboy boots, denim and fringing. There were motifs that looked like Native American cave paintings, worked into embroidery on dresses. A long coat featured an exquisite drawing of grasses, plants and butterflies and a crisp white shirt was embroidered with thistles.
This wasn’t an attempt to beat all-American designers like Ralph Lauren at their own game, however. According to Vogue, the cave painting idea came from the Dior archive. Founder Christian Dior – who called California a “super-riviera” in 1947 – was inspired by the 1940 discovery of Lascaux cave paintings in south-western France for a collection in 1951.
This was mixed with the signatures Chiuri has established in her 10 months at Dior: soft 50s dresses with bodices, tulle skirts and cross-body bags. The designer has also shown a penchant for headgear. It is her autumn/winter collection that has made berets fashionable – Alexa Chung wears one on the cover of June’s Vogue.
Georgia O’Keeffe was muse here, credited with the tough silhouette of a jacket belted over a long skirt. The artist, whose work was inspired by the landscape in New Mexico, is ideal inspiration for Chiuri – the first female designer to head up Christian Dior and who began her first collection with a T-shirt proclaiming “We Should All Be Feminists”.
The female gaze continues to be a theme for Chiuri. This show had a Mother Earth figure as its starting point. The press release referred to the cave paintings’ “wild and ancient femininity, linked to the magic of the earth”. A series of dresses with tarot card motifs were a collaboration with Vicki Noble, who created the Motherpeace tarot, a deck of cards featuring goddesses and female figures from around the world.
The press release also name-checked Women Who Run With the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estés’s bestselling book about the idea of the wild woman suppressed by patriarchy.
Cruise collections take place between the autumn/winter and the spring/summer ready-to-wear shows. They have traditionally been designed for wealthy clients – who may well be going on cruises – to top up their wardrobes. In a video on Dior’s Instagram account, a one of its seamstresses calls the collection “clothes for travelling”.
Over the last decade, cruise shows have also represented an opportunity for the most elite brands to produce a lavish, no-expense-spared event outside of the main fashion calendar, often in a far-flung photogenic location.
It is designed to score press coverage – and increasingly posts on social media. Dior’s location was chosen before Chiuri’s arrival in 2016, suggesting cruise shows are planned years in advance.
Louis Vuitton will show its cruise collection in the Miho Museum near Kyoto this weekend while Gucci’s will take place at the end of the month in the Palatina Gallery, part of the renaissance Palazzo Pitti in Florence.
Prada and Chanel chose to stage their cruise shows closer to home – in Milan and Paris respectively – but they were no less opulent for it. Prada’s was in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s oldest shopping malls, while Karl Lagerfeld transformed the Grand Palais in Paris into ancient Greece for Chanel.
Dior is now fully owned by LVMH, with a £10bn deal in April bringing all parts of the brand under the umbrella of the French conglomerate that also owns Louis Vuitton. The move saw LVMH’s stock rise by 4% on the day of the deal. Dior is regarded as one of the most successful fashion houses in Paris with revenues of £1.68bn last year. Chiuri joined the brand in January after 17 years at Valentino and will now turn her attention to the Dior couture collection, which will be shown in Paris in July.
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