While the ready-to-wear shows in London, Paris, Milan and New York may seem glamorous to most, it's the Cruise shows, privy to an elite group of the world's most esteemed fashion journalists, that are the real spectacle. Last year, Chanel's Cruise show took place in Cuba while Louis Vuitton's Cruise collection was showcased against the breathtaking backdrop of Rio, Brazil. On Sunday Nicolas Ghesquière will showcase his latest collection in Kyoto, Japan but before then it was off to the hills of Calabasas for Maria Grazia Chiuri's first Cruise collection for Dior, last night.
When the world is your oyster, why choose LA? The location (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 with its endless, stunning views of the American outback, Chiuri explained that it would be fitting for a collection focusing on nature. “You think LA 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,” the designer told Vogue. This was the perfect opportunity to revel in nature's beauty – or at least capture some impressive pictures for Instagram, with the awesome rolling plains, Dior Sauvage light-up sign, hot air balloons and giant hills as a backdrop.
Delving into the Dior archives for inspiration, Chiuri was drawn to Christian Dior's 1951 'Ovale' collection, which featured prints inspired by the ancient Lascaux cave paintings. Paying homage to the house's founder, Chiuri's first Cruise collection similarly drew on the cave art, also taking inspiration from the artist Georgia O’Keeffe’s time in the desert and the work of feminist shamanic healer and author Vicki Noble.
This manifested in an earth-toned collection of rich shades of terracotta, tan and rust enlivened with folkloric prints and intricate embroidery. Set to the sound of a live drumbeat, Dior regular, Ruth Bell, opened the show in a black fringed dress adorned with snakes and skeletons, finished off with a flat brim hat. Just as the beret was a constant in Maria Grazia’s AW17 show in March, the flat top hat recurred on every model, sometimes tied under the chin or decorated with beading and primitive prints, handmade by Stephen Jones.
Chiuri's now almost-signature dress with a corseted bodice, square neckline, and A-line skirt was rendered in a neutral palette worn with leather skinny waist belts and chunky boots or under fringed ponchos. There were also the tulle gowns that have become part of her Dior handwriting, embroidered with swirling floral patterns. Khaki slacks added a casual element to the collection in a similar way to the denim pieces that casually punctuated Chiuri's AW17 navy collection. There were shaggy fur coats intarsia’d with the cave painting motif, leather biker jackets, pleated skirts, colourful crochet tops and plenty of suede.
Peter Philips, creative and image director for Dior Makeup created a natural but luminous beauty look for each model which matched the palette and mood of the collection: "I wanted to use the warm, organic, and earthy tones of the desert, just like in Georgia O'Keefe's paintings. I wanted a natural but slightly unpolished "warm glow" effect, the way you look after physical activity. I used earthy and orangey colours so the girls looked like they had spent an afternoon in the sun and the wind."
And it wouldn't be a Dior show without a star-studded front row. Rihanna was joined by Freida Pinto, Brie Larson, Big Sean, Kelly Rowland, Kate Bosworth, Charlize Theron and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, while Solange performed at the after party.