The drizzly weather in the French capital didn’t rain on Dior’s parade as the powerhouse staged the first major show of Paris Fashion Week on Tuesday.
On the contrary, rain was a fitting accessory for a forest-themed show at the Longchamp Racecourse that celebrated nature and ecology. The earthy scent of wet soil from a forest nearby wafted around fashion editors and celebrities who included Julianne Moore and Jennifer Lawrence.
Dior’s first female designer, Maria Grazia Chiuri, pulled off a clever twist for the season, when the House of Dior’s legendary founder wasn’t the usual inspiration for the designs.
In Christian Dior’s place was his colourful and rebellious sister, Catherine Dior, known simply as Miss Dior.
Chiuri delved into the house archives and came back channelling a photo of Catherine, who was a gardener and born in 1917, surrounded by flowers.
The result was a decorative and quirky collection. It riffed on gardening and on the buttoned-up collar styles Miss Dior wore. Straw hats in natural hues or dyed black, some with contrasting trim, defined the tone of the 67-look show with a central eco-theme.
The program notes said the hats were fashioned in raffia, a natural fibre made from palm leaves. Against the forest backdrop, it made quite the fashion statement.
A loose striped mini-dress in the style of a gardener’s apron opened the show alongside a beautiful A-line full skirt that teemed with intricate organic embroidery.
Later, the collection loosened up with as an open coat-collar silhouette and a series of fluid silk gowns in pastel shades and floral prints.
But despite the fresh quirks, the collection had many designs that left an impression they have been seen before.
Chiuri’s shows are all about a “message.” During previous seasons, it often was about feminism and the fight for women’s rights.
For Tuesday’s display, the Italian designer turned her attention to ecology.
Celebrity models, including Natalia Vodianova and Karlie Kloss, posed in a square, tawny brown annex with a forest-scape of diverse and unusual trees.
The set was a collaboration with Coloco, a landscape design firm with an ecological focus that cultivates trees and plants and re-uses them in projects.
Model and actress Laetitia Casta, admired Dior’s push for environmental awareness.
“Fortunately, we’re being vigilant and we are conscious (of ecology) as it is the future and the next generation, even, or especially, in the world of the luxury industry,” Casta said. “With art, we can achieve great things. And we need to get the message across.”