Fashion's fanciest front row-ers descended on Musée Vivant du Cheval in Chantilly (just outside Paris) this weekend for Dior's 2019 Cruise Show. Designer Maria Grazia Chiuri's Mexican rodeo collection took inspiration from the Escaramuzas: "Mexican female riders who practice an art traditionally reserved for men while asserting their femininity, wearing full skirts and imposing hats," as the show notes explain.
Celebrating fabulously dressed women taking on traditional roles typically performed by men is clearly in keeping with the feminist message we've seen Maria Grazia hone in previous collections. However, one front row-er was apparently less than impressed with the equestrian theme. Paris Jackson – actress, model, daughter of iconic singer Michael, and niece of Janet – reportedly stormed out of the show in the name of animal welfare.
"It all proved too much for Jackson, who huffed out barefoot, having earlier asked two assistants to help her out of her high-heeled sandals," WWD reports. "Whether the issue was animal welfare, or simply an extreme aversion to rain, was not clear." Paris is known for her support of animal rights causes, and before the show she told the reporter, "I love horses very much. I’m ecstatic," as she posed for photographers at the centre of the enclosure. Whether it was the use of horses in the show, the rainfall that forced guests to shelter under umbrellas, or something else entirely, Paris made a swift and unexpected exit.
Whatever Paris' verdict, the collection has been met with critical acclaim. Feminine elements including ruffled skirts, floral embroidery, bucolic 'toile de Jouy' prints, and cinched waists were matched by harder, more utilitarian pieces – stomping boots, shirts with ties, stiff-peaked rodeo hats by Stephen Jones – and, of course, the logo motif so favoured by Maria Grazia. With the use of traditional Mexican styles and prints, questions about cultural appropriation must be asked – and they were, by Vogue's Suzy Menkes after the show.
"I had this discussion with [her millennial daughter] Rachele about cultural appropriation," Maria Grazia said, with Suzy relaying the designer's explanation of "her belief that there were physical links between southern countries, seeing in her travels to Mexico and Peru similar apparel traditions to those of her native Puglia in southern Italy and also with the South of France" – a reasoning that is likely to satisfy few of Rachele's fellow millennials. Taking a rain check on the traditional Mexican motifs, this Dior Cruise collection is a masc-femme mash-up we can really get in the saddle for.