While the ready-to-wear shows in New York, London, Milan, and Paris may seem glamorous to most, it's the cruise shows, which happen in-between the February and September Fashion Months, that draw the most elite of the elite with the promise of a spectacle. These events tend to be the most news-making, too: Remember Chanel's much-discussed jaunt in Havana, Cuba, or Louis Vuitton's breathtaking presentation, set against the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil? Maria Grazia Chiuri debuted her first resort collection for Dior today in Calabasas, California — the well-documented terrain of the Kardashian-Jenners — but the takeaway wasn't the surprising location. Rather, it's the fact that the Italian-born designer snuck an epic (and well-timed) throwback into her Wild West-inspired designs...and we're inordinately excited about it.
When the world is your oyster, why choose L.A. to show cruise? The location of last night's Dior show (at the Upper Las Virgenes Open Space Preserve, where both Little House on the Prairie and Gone with the Wind were filmed) was actually secured before Chiuri joined the French fashion house last summer. But the Italian designer explained that the endless views of the American outback gelled well with her vision for the new collection, which focused on nature. "You think L.A. and you think Hollywood, Oscars, the red carpet, but honestly I feel people love this place because you feel in contact with the natural elements," she told Vogue.
While the setting played a role in the aesthetic direction for cruise '18, Chiuri also delved deep into Dior's archives to piece the collection together; she pointed to the house's 1951 Ovale collection specifically, which featured prints inspired by the ancient Lascaux cave paintings. But what caught our eye was the much more subtle tribute to one of the brand's most seminal — and recognizable — logos. You likely remember the brown namesake print, which rose to prominence in the pop culture sphere thanks to the likes of Carrie Bradshaw, Missy Elliott, and Gwen Stefani in the aughts...and, more recently, we spotted it on Kim Kardashian West at the beach. Now, it's found its way back into the house's collection, in the form of two very nostalgia-inducing handbags.
Outside of these overt tributes to the brand and its founder (and to the industry's obsession with nostalgic trends), Chiuri's first collection drew from Georgia O'Keeffe's time in the desert in New Mexico — as many, the designer included, were quick to remark — as well as the work of feminist shamanic healer and author Vicki Noble. All these references, plus the stunning backdrop for the actual show, manifested in an earth-toned collection, highlighting rich shades of terracotta, tan, and rust, featuring folkloric prints rendered in intricate embroidery. Chiuri-for-Dior favorite Ruth Bell opened the lineup in a black fringed dress adorned with snakes and skeletons, finished off with a flat brim hat by Stephen Jones — the designer's Western, cruise '18 answer to the instantly-trendy leather beret from fall '17.
Chiuri's now-signature dress silhouette — the corseted, square-necked, A-line gown, preferred by Bella Hadid — was reissued in a neutral color palette to fit in with the theme, styled with skinny leather belts and chunky boots, or under fringed ponchos. Khaki slacks added a casual element to the collection, similar to how Chiuri used denim to dress down her navy-dominated autumnal runway. There were also shaggy fur coats, leather jackets, and colorful crochet tops galore — as well as plenty of suede, for obvious, Western-referencing reasons.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Dior show without a star-studded front row: Rihanna held court alongside Freida Pinto, Brie Larson, Big Sean, Kelly Rowland, Kate Bosworth, Charlize Theron and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, while Solange performed at the after party. Now, the question is: Who will be the first to flant that logomania-era Dior crossbody? Our bet's on Bad Gal.