Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri does seem to love the looks and motifs of the Americas from prairie styling to rodeos, and her latest obsession, Mexico’s female escaramuza riders saw her latest collection adopting an equestrian theme that symbolically underlined just how much she’s taken the reins of a label that’s now being reshaped in her image.
Those riders were the big inspiration for her pre-summer 19 collection that was shown on the runway on Friday. A grow of them spectacularly opened the show just to ram that equestrian back story home and certainly helped to prove that pre-collections are every bit as important as main season for this particular label.
That was also proved by the fact that the show included a pretty hefty 82 exits. That’s some commitment given the work that has to go into that many pieces with couture just around the corner and the SS19 show just a few months away. But Maria Grazia Chiuri always has a beaming smile and doesn’t look like she’s headed for a Galliano-style burnout.
Her smile stayed in place even when heavy rain fell in the partially-open venue and it certainly didn’t seem to spoil the fun… instead it just added an extra theatrical edge to a show that was as much entertainment as fashion statement.
And the clothes? Well, as mentioned, there were 82 looks, although it did at times feel more like 10 looks repeated over and over. Oh look, another jacket with a full skirt, another frou-frou dress with what looks like a utility belt, and is that another straw hat we see?
That may sound like a thumbs-down, but it shouldn’t. Ever since the very first collection Maria Grazia Chiuri showed for Dior, there’s been plenty to be not too sure about (those SS17 fencing looks for one) but plenty more to love and lust after and Chiuri seems even more confident as each collection actually hits the stores and goes down a storm with real live customers.
So while this latest collection may not exactly be history-making, it contained plenty that Dior customers will want to wear.
It was dominated by evening (or very dressy daytime) styles even though the show’s opening looks tricked us into thinking this might just be a collection dominated by daywear.
Those special occasion/evening styles came ballerina length and referenced the best known Dior silhouette (the New Look). Waisted and flared, the full sheer skirts, the layers of lace and tulle, or Dior’s favourite sun ray pleats, were frequently teamed with another instantly recognisable Dior piece, a jacket with a nipped-in waist.
But those jackets, the belts, the heavy boots or sneakers that came with everything and those straw hats also signalled that this wasn’t all-out red carpet glamour but something rather more versatile.
And while the silhouette was a classic Dior one, the fabrics and patterns allowed the design team to have a bit more fun.
In a palette dominated by understated sandy tones, plus black, white, grey, and wine, we got some beautiful jungle print toile de Jouy, some colourful jungle beasts, Mexican-inspired embroideries and beading, serape skirts, prairie stripes teamed with spot voile trims and the label’s never-neglected polka dots.
The materials were a dream with the tulle and lace feeling both lush and delicate, and the lace-like leathers adding a delicate edge to a tough material. The leather also came with a tougher edge for breastplate-style corsets and the deep belts.
It all looked extravagant, expensive and ultra-luxe on the runway but it doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to visualise those sheers, belts, hats, pleated skirts and power prints translated to high street level. Just give it a few months.