The Cruise circuit normally has the fashion set circumnavigating the globe: For Christian Dior alone we’ve boarded a water taxi to a Navy yard in Brooklyn (Resort 2015); flown to Pierre Cardin’s terracotta palace of domes set halfway between Cannes and Monaco (Resort 2016); embarked “The Dior Express” to Blenheim Palace in the Oxfordshire countryside (Resort 2017); and last year, trekked to a remote mountaintop in Calabasas, California (Resort 2018).
Tonight, the venue was closer to home for the storied fashion house but no less impressive, taking place just 30 miles outside Paris at the Great Stables of the Domaine de Chantilly, a sprawling 18th-century palace designed by architect Jean Aubert.
Given the location, chances were always strong that Maria Grazia Chiuri‘s latest Cruise offering would weave in an equestrian theme, but the designer dug deeper into the idea with outfits inspired by female escaramuzas riders, who compete in Mexico’s version of rodeo (#diorodeo).
With their huge sombreros and colorful cotton dresses with tiered full skirts that fly out as they ride sidesaddle at full gallop, these women are strong and fearless – not too dissimilar to Chiuri’s customer.
Tonight, they showed up in person in coordinating blue and white, circling the open air arena atop charging grey horses to a superb, emotive score by Michel Gaubert. It was quite the spectacle and, even without the torrential downpour that began as guests arrived and continued late into the night, the sense of drama was building long before the first booms of thunder thanks to the escaramuzas.
By reinterpreting the riders’ Adilita dresses, the designer tapped into her own heritage: all of that intricate lace and embroidery on those now signature sheer dresses hailing from southern Italy where her father was born. Paired with chunky rubber-soled combat boots (what better for rain!), the look was toughened up Dior style, and will no doubt please the brand’s millennial fans including Paris Jackson, Alexa Chung and the cast of Stranger Things who sat front row.
Sheer mesh skirts made a welcome return to the line-up, too, this time embroidered with lattice or animal motifs like tigers and serpents, which were then also printed on trenchcoats and denim shirts. Pristine white shirts and black ties were paired with more of those ultra wearable ruffle skirts – the blurring and merging of masculine and feminine always on Dior’s agenda. A selection of camel suits, modern jodhpurs and fitted jackets were straight Out of Africa and ready for safari – and the utility nod carried on in extra wide waisted belts.
As always, the aim for Chiuri is to celebrate what it means to be a woman today – her knack for looking back into the archives, mining, twisting and turning lost gems into pieces that are intriguing and relevant again to a new, confident and independent woman, is something she continues to do very, very well.
Written by Claire Carruthers, Vogue Arabia’s Executive Fashion Editor.